Category Archives: short short fiction

The Chattanooga Chalupa (“pardon me, boy”)…

This one was inadvertently deleted, so I’m reposting. BB

The Chattanooga Chalupa (Pardon me, boy…)

The Chattanooga Chalupa is remembered for his gambling skills and his quiet viciousness with his drawn Schofields. But I know for a fact that he was, more than anything, a lover of women.

Some say he come out of San Antonio. Some say he was the bastard child of a whore in Nuevo Laredo who abandoned him to be raised in a culvert by armadillos. There were stories of his winning Montezuma’s Gold in Mexico City the same night a Caribbean princess dropped to her knees in front of him and begged him to kill her father and usurp the throne.

I don’t rightly know where he hailed from, originally. But I met him, godammit. No one in this shit-hole town believes me, ‘cause I been drunk for about sixty-seven years now. But I was there in Dodge City the night The Chattanooga Chalupa won big at Mrs. Bridewell’s Saloon and put a bullet between the eyes of Cryin’ Jimmy Ryan.

I was eleven years old. You see, in Dodge City at that time, Miss Bridewell run the most fantastic and profitable saloon in all the Kansas Territory. Card players of fame from all over come there to try their hand at beating Cryin’ Jimmy Ryan, who was at once the owner of Mrs. Bridewell’s Saloon, the best and most famous card player at said establishment, and none other than the husband of the same Mrs. Bridewell that run the upstairs whorehouse.

Now, you might be wondering why he was called Cryin’ Jimmy Ryan. Well, that was on account of the way he got to snorting and snuffling in the presence of tobacco smoke. You could say it was an unfortunate ailment for a man who spent his entire life in the confines of a saloon. No sooner would some cowpoke or gunslinger or gambler light up a hand-rolled tobacco stick, than old Jimmy’d start leaking at the nose and eyes. He carried a filthy snot rag with him that always seemed stuffed in his face. To this day, my memory will not give me a clear picture of Cryin’ Jimmy Ryan. I can only remember those red, watery eyes.

And of course, the big hole in his forehead put there by The Chalupa.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

See, in those days, it weren’t nothing for a man to travel from town to town and try to establish himself as the cock of the walk. For gunslingers, you traveled around and shot folks. And you kept on shooting folks until you were shot dead yourself. Or until no one would come out to face you anymore, which, for a gunslinger, amounts to about the same thing. For card players, you’d hear of high-stakes games or unbeatable players and you’d set off on the road to wherever all that excitement was happening and try your hand.

Well, sometimes, a man could think himself the best in several areas. The Chattanooga Chalupa was one of those guys. He was said to be able to bluff and call five poker aces, pleasure a bored Mexican whore, and place a bullet between the eyes of a challenger who’d looked at him cross-eyed at fifty feet – all at the same time, without breaking a sweat or breathing heavy.

Now, I know that’s a lot of set-up for this here story, but I want you to understand just how the world was back then. There weren’t no radios and such. So, gentleman like Wyatt Earp or The Chalupa were legends – like King Arthur or, I don’t know, Marco Polo. Stories about ‘em were carried from town to town on the stages and, later, the trains.

Anyways, the night I met him, I was helping my Mama get into her corset. She was a whore for Mrs., Bridewell and, because of our relation, I was able to work in the whorehouse, doing things like sweeping the saloon and swapping out sheets from the short-time rooms, which I have to tell you was disgusting.

Well, downstairs Cryin’ Jimmy Ryan was fleecing the customers, as usual. My Mama told me never to trust Jimmy and come to her first if ever Jimmy came up with a plan for me. After I got Mama’s corset tightened the way she liked it, she sent me downstairs to get out of her business. Mama needed some separation, she always said.  I think it had something to do with the fact that neither of us knew who my Daddy was, and that was more a source of discomfort for her than me.

I went down and started sweeping the saloon ‘cause each day I had to show Jimmy that I was worth keepin’ around. Mrs. Bridewell, she took pity on me and every now and then fed me a small cupcake and drink. But Jimmy, he wasn’t one to cotton to no son of a whore.

Sweeping around Jimmy’s table I accidentally knocked a shot glass over with the broom handle and Jimmy, he reached out, grabbed my hair and punched me right in the face. I knew my lip was split and Jimmy, he just mumbled something angry and kicked at me to get away and Mrs. Bridewell give me a drink.

So there I was drinking a moxie when everything in the saloon went suddenly silent. Then I heard someone say, real quiet-like, “Chalupa.” I looked at the door. There, in the middle of the opening, was a man wearing a greasy serape and a black sombrero. A silver buckle held the bandolero across his chest with an enormous CC worked into the metal. Two Schofields peeked out from under that dirty serape.

He walked slowly to Jimmy’s table and all the men seated there rose and backed off. The Chalupa sat down and lifted his unshaved chin at Jimmy. Not a word was spoken. Jimmy gathered the cards. He shuffled, cut and dealt them. I could see his hands was shakin’.

For a kid who’d grown up in a whorehouse saloon, I knew precious little about gambling. All I know is the cards kept getting dealt and Jimmy Ryan kept getting angrier and angrier. After a while, I seen my Mama come down the stairs. I assumed she wanted to see why everything had gotten so quiet.

Well, the first thing that happened was The Chalupa looked up with his big, sad brown eyes. He gazed upon Mama and a tiny smile grew across his lips. Mama just stared at him. Next thing I knew, Jimmy snarled at The Chalupa, who had let his concentration on the game lag while he was smiling at Mama.

‘Course Jimmy was on the verge of beating Chalupa for the first time that evening. But The Chalupa just drops his cards and rises from his seat. Still staring at Mama. “Evangeline,” he said. Jimmy Ryan looked around the room and said, “What the fuck is this? Are we gambling here or are you going to play stinkfinger with the help?”

“Where is he?” The Chalupa asked her. Mama glanced at me. Before I know it, the entire saloon was looking at me. Including The Chalupa.

He walked slowly across the room until he was standing directly in front of Mama. The Chalupa put his arm around her and beckoned me over. I stumbled to them and smelled the desert all over his serape. The Chattanooga Chalupa looked down at me and asked, “Do you know who I am?” I stammered, “Th-The Ch-Chatt. The Chattanooga Chalupa.” He nodded his head slowly.

It was hard to see his face under that huge sombrero that he refused to take off. “I am also your- “

“What the fuck is this?” Jimmy bellowed. “Miranda? Get that bitch back upstairs! I’m fifty-two grand into The Chalupa and he’s not going anywhere.”

Mrs. Bridewell came out from the office behind the bar.  “Eve, get on upstairs. Take the boy with you,” she said.

The Chalupa stepped forward and said, “Ma’am, they’re going nowhere.” And turning to Jimmy, he said, “Our game is over, friend. Take the money. I don’t want it.”

Well, I could see Jimmy getting red in the face. He stood up and said, “Chalupa, I don’t want your goddamn charity. I want to win this money and I won’t have you distracted by no whore!” Just like that, Jimmy pulled a gun and – the memory still breaks my heart – shot my Mama right in the head.

Before Jimmy finished a breath, The Chalupa put a bullet right in his forehead. Jimmy’s eyes crossed and down he went.

“Mama!” I screamed. I ran over to her but it was no use. I could see she was dead. And The Chalupa was down on the floor, holding her, cradling her. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and I got to wondering, even while I was feeling so broken up myself, why this legend was cryin’ over a dead whore.

Of course, I know you’re probably thinkin’ The Chalupa came out and told me he was my father and had traveled to that wretched saloon to save me and Mama from a life of misery. That all his traveling and adventurin’ was nothin’ more than his quest to find us, his family.

But that wasn’t how it happened.

The Chalupa, he give all the money on the table to Mrs. Bridewell and said, “See Evangeline is buried properly. And this money is for the boy.  I don’t want to come back here and find it was stolen from him.” Mrs. Bridewell looked over at me with her huge doe eyes, all tearing up. Nods her head.

And with that, The Chalupa walked out and I never saw him again.

A man from one of the other tables touched my should and asked, “Pardon me boy, but was that -?”

“It was my Daddy,” I said. And to this day, I’m not sure why I said it.

Mrs. Bridewell, she put the money in the bank for me and I had a little book that allowed me to take some out on occasion when I needed it. As I got older, the drinking demon got hold of me and a lot of the money went to that. But, that night in Dodge City, while tragic, also gave me some hope.

Maybe it was true. Maybe he was my Daddy.

That thought has kept me going these long years since. I like to think this world allows for great things to happen to men like me and The Chattanooga Chalupa.

The sons of whores.

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Well, here is my entry in Chuck Wendig’s latest flash fiction challenge over at terribleminds. As I noted in an earlier post, the challenge was to choose a ‘Dirty Ass Sex Move’ as the title of a story. “The Chattanooga Chalupa” in my story of course bears no resemblance to the actual sex move (google it if you want to know what it is).  If you’re intrigued by some of Chuck’s challenges, head on over to terribleminds and check more of the submitted stories. Image by cdharrison


That Halloween – 1965

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She feels as vaporous as a ghost, padding from room to room as the gloom slowly fills the house.

“Move it!” she yells up the stairs, and they scream back “Almost done!” in perfect unison.

She savors the memory of how their faces had lit up that morning, when she had put on her hat and coat and commanded them to get ready to walk into town for the costumes. They deserved it. A few crumpled bills stuffed into a pocket of her faded, blue raincoat held that kind of power. She had been trying to save for some time, to cushion them against the unknown. But now what was the use?

They pile down the stairs, costumes crinkling and hissing. All that plastic and silk.

“Watch out, Ma, or I’ll curse you!” Ruby’s witch cackles, waving her fingers.

Zach is some sort of hobo-clown. He loves Red Skelton and maybe that’s why he chose that one, she doesn’t know. Of course, the Montgomery Ward only had about the three costumes left by the time she had decided to bring them on down there, so it’s not like they had a lot to choose from.

“It’s getting dark, they’ll be starting down at the grange hall soon. You’d better get a move on,” she tells them.

“You’re coming, right Ma?” She sees Zach’s pale blue eyes widen behind the hobo mask.

“I’ll be along presently. Just hold your sister’s hand and everything will be fine.” She fixes her daughter with a serious but tender gaze. “Ruby, you’ll watch out for your brother, won’t you, hon?”

“Yes’m,” Ruby says and it’s hard to take her seriously wearing that clean mop she’s laid on her head for witch-hair. She’s just a kid, after all.

She bustles them out the door and notices the strap on Ruby’s right shoe is loose. “Hold on.” She bends down and snaps the buckle. “There. Wait! What good is a witch without a broom?”

She runs back into the house and grabs the straw-stick from the kitchen closet. “That’s better,” she says, placing the broom into her daughter’s hand.

“Come here, my hobo.” She holds her arms out to Zach and she sees his eyes roll, but he rushes forward into her embrace. “Be mindful of your sister, now. I’ll see you both soon.”

And then she releases him.

She walks back into the house, letting the screen door bang shut.

The kitchen is getting darker, but she doesn’t feel like turning on a lamp. The darkness whispers to her, like a lover, as she watches the kids, hand in hand, skip across the yard toward County Road 22.

“Hey, wait!” she calls out, and then scampers over to the counter. She has just remembered she bought a roll of film when they got the costumes. To get a picture of this Halloween. For a keepsake, like people do.

The wind is picking up outside. “A picture!” she yells, holding the camera over her head. “Just get closer together.” She moves her arms like she is directing traffic in town.

The sky above the children boils black, gray, and white.

And she snaps the picture.

“Okay,” she yells again, nodding her head. “I’ve got it. I’ve got you!  Now, go on.”

Back in the kitchen, she pulls the photo out of the side of the enormous, gray plastic camera and places it on the table. From here she can see into the living room as well as out through the screen door to the yard and the road. She looks at her wedding photo above the couch, and, on the mantle, the folded flag that came home from Vietnam on her husband’s coffin. Unpaid bills lie in a mound on the coffee table.

She looks down. Miraculously, the image of her kids on this Halloween slowly emerges as she loads the pistol.

She sits quietly  in the darkness.

Through the screen door she watches Zach and Ruby running, their squeals of glee swallowed by the rising wind.

“Go on, now,” she whispers again. “Go on.”

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Photo: delilas


Dummies – Nuclear Test Site, Nevada 1953

Good jobs,

Government man say.

Even children paid.

Keep house.

Keep new furniture.

Love children.

Love life.

_____________

Momma go out?

No.

Momma go out?

No.

M –

_____________________________________

For a flash challenge at terribleminds

Image by Mark Holloway


Deep Ones

The Deep Ones took her on a beautiful summer day.

She’d been lolling in the gentle surf, eyes half-closed against the sun and its glittering reflections. On the cusp of womanhood, her scent drew them in, just as the elders said it had happened in the time of horrors.

The Deep Ones dragged her to the bottom and drowned her, leaving a seed deep in her dead womb. It burst forth, fully tentacled, a storm of blood and bubbles.

Decades later, his stolen daughter a local legend, the fisherman spied a tentacled horror on the bottom – and wept in recognition.

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Thanks to Emma Audsley who posted this excellent image (drawn by Victor Hugo, no less!) as a prompt for a 100-word story on her active and excellent blog, The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog. I responded to Emma’s prompt with the story you read above and I’m re-posting it here because I like this tiny tale.

Interestingly, I found the following text from Victor Hugo accompanying the image when I downloaded it from 50 Watts via Flickr.  Strange and fun, I think, how it meshes with the story I wrote having only seen the picture. More a testament to Hugo’s drawing than my writing, I suspect.

At night, however, and particularly in the hot season, she becomes phosphorescent. This horrible creature has her passions, she awaits her submarine nuptials. She adorns herself, setting herself alight and illuminating herself; and from the height of some rock she may be seen in the deep obscurity of the waves below, expanding with a pale aureole — a spectral sun.


The Lost Love of Little Bianca (a tiny tale of big revenge)…


One of the great aspects of writing flash fiction is seeing how much story you can pack into a tiny bit of text. This is 100 words to tell a story of revenge. Love, Sex, Betrayal, and Revenge….all in a tiny package.

 

Image by Steve Snodgrass

The Lost Love of Little Bianca (a tiny tale of big revenge)

 

The things you hear living in a carnival camp.

Little Bianca, the dwarf whore who could swallow razor blades, and Antoine The Cuke, so named due to his enormous member, were inseparable. Each night, we’d cover our ears as Little Bianca moaned in pleasure. Bianca beamed, even during performances as she ate razor blades.

Then The Cuke broke her heart when she caught him with The Yak Woman.

So one night Little Bianca dragged him behind the Tilt-A-Whirl, got on her knees and gave him the blowjob of his life – fresh from her razor-swallowing performance.

Oh, the screams we heard!


Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind…

Well, it’s just been too damned long since I posted a story. The crazy summer of travel is over, so it’s time to start spinning tales. This is my entry for this week’s flash fiction challenge at terribleminds. Famous people doing fictional things.   As a musician as well as a fiction writer, I’ve always been a huge Dylan fan.  Read on to see what kind of trouble he gets into with Mother Teresa. I had enormous fun seeing how many Dylan lyrics or song titles I could cram into a story with a 1,000-word limit.  All you Dylan fans, see if you can identify them all! Welcome back everyone!

Nice Dylan painting by greencolander.

Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind

“Like Dylan Thomas?” Mother Teresa asked.

Bob Dylan lay down his weary guitar.

And rolling thunder rumbled in the west.

“Yeah. Meant it to be like Marshall Dillon, ya know, on ‘Gunsmoke’? But I got confused, somethin’ happened, and I didn’t know what it was.”

The heat sent plumes of garbage-scented steam up off the streets of Calcutta. Bob Dylan looked down the road and saw children fighting with dogs for scraps.

“Do you have a speech impediment, young man? As you can see, I’m very busy. So please tell me again, what is it specifically you want me to do?”

“Mama, you been on my mind. See, a hard rain’s gonna fall. Ya know when there’s a crash on the levee, water gonna overflow and we’re gonna go down in the flood.”

Mother Teresa squinted at the unkempt man, noticed the long, dirty fingernails, the unruly mop of greasy hair, the smoldering cigarette in his nicotine-yellowed right hand. A pack of Kools rested on the table between them.

“I’m not sure I understand you, Mr. Dylan.”

“I saw this all in a dream, my one-hundred-and-fifteenth dream, dig? A dream of Johanna, who had the ghost of electricity howling in the bones of her face. And that dream blew to me on the wind. I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children, blood on the tracks.” His eyes, as blue as robin’s eggs, turned white hot, as he stared at this woman who seemed to him the embodiment of the stained world’s salvation..

“Why have you come to me? I’m just an ugly, old woman with bunions and too many mouths to feed. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I have no power, despite what you may’ve heard on the news. Perhaps you could sing your songs at the UN?”

“Songs! They laugh at the songs! I’ve got so much mixed up confusion, it’s a-killin’ me, mama. They give me awards and I’m so frightened for the world, all I can do is mumble into the microphone. The masters of war are all talking World War III blues and some folks want me to be the voice, you know, but it ain’t me, babe, it’s you. You’re the real deal. I’m a jokerman.”

Mother Teresa reached out and laid a hand on his. His dirtiness and obvious mental illness failed to repulse her: it was just another day in Calcutta.

“But, Bob – may I call you Bob? – these troubles you note, they are nothing but the beautiful workings of the living Christ here, immanent on this very Earth. Ever has it been in this world. It remains only for us to find Christ in ourselves and spread compassion in the face of misery and suffering.”

Dylan looked off into the darkening distance, sighed smoke out into a dying world. “You see, I’m not so sure ‘bout that Christ thing. Tried it. Didn’t work out. Not for long, anyhow.”

Mother Teresa leaned forward and slapped him across the face.

“Perhaps your experience with that Christ thing was limited by your lack of faith. I’m sorry, are you OK? I didn’t mean to hit you so hard.”

Dylan ran a hand over his stubbly jaw. “Don’t think twice, it’s alright.”

The tiny nun rose from her seat – just a wooden box – and said, “Come with me. I want to show you something.”

Outside it had begun to rain, a soft mist falling on the just and the unjust alike. They walked side by side, Mother Teresa gripping Dylan’s leather-clad forearm.

They walked down by the old canal, redolent with the commingled scents of jasmine and shit. The western sky threatened the approach of the monsoon. Rumbling clouds of black and blue billowed then swirled around one another, spitting pebble-sized raindrops.

“Do you see the storm, Bob?”

Dylan mumbled,“Don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows…”

“That is correct, you don’t. The monsoon will come whether we like it or not. It will flood the Ganges, push human shit and dead bodies all over town. But it washes at the same time, picking up waste that has been allowed to sit and fester since the last storm. Do you understand?”

Dylan rolled a joint, fired it up, offered it to the nun with raised eyebrows.

She took it and swallowed a long, slow hit.

She said, “Before we get too far down that joint, I want you to try to look at the world with a longer view. One that has room for redemption. By the way, you’ve got blood on your tongue.”

“It’s alright, ma, I’m only bleeding. So, like, you’re whole approach is to get past the anger and have faith that God’s gonna make it all better?”

“No! Are all musicians this thick? WE are going to make it all better. You can sing your songs, but don’t forget to love someone. Show some kindness to a child.”

They arrived at the banks of the Ganges. People of all ages bathed in the river, surrounded by a kind of orange glow that Dylan could only assume was the Matanuska Thunderfuck they were smoking working its magic.

“The world will end, but not tomorrow, Mr. Dylan.”

“Well,” Dylan said, “tomorrow is a long time, as they say.” He walked to the very edge of the water. He looked at the old men and women bathing, smiling. Children chased one another and giggled along the shimmering water’s edge.

He continued out to a small outcropping of sand. There he sat down, put the pinched roach in his pocket, and gazed intently at the approaching storm.

“Will you come inside out of the weather?” she asked.

“Nah. Maybe the times are a-changin’ and I should too.”

The old woman embraced him before she left. “The storm can be frightening. Sure you don’t want shelter?”

“Nah. Just gonna sit on this bank of sand, you know?” he said. “Watch the river flow.”


Avenging Angel…

Avenging Angel

Linda reached for her vibrating cell phone on the nightstand. She didn’t need the ringer; she wasn’t sleeping well these days.

“What?” she mumbled.

“Linda, we’ve got another one.”

Linda sat bolt upright. “Like the others? You’re sure?”

“Propped up on all fours. Tail, mane – the works. This one’s extra special, though.”

Linda waited, her eyes wide. She looked at the photo of a young girl on the nightstand.

“For Chrissakes, Marty, spit it out. This isn’t a game show.”

“This one has…more accessories. Just get down here and see it.”

“It? These were people once, Marty. Have some fucking respect.”

“Says you.”

Lieutenant Linda Einhorn took down the address.

The details of the report she’d been writing earlier that evening played like a movie across her mind: three murders so far, all known perps. Pedophiles. Overpowered, restrained, throats slit, dressed up to resemble what appeared to be horses and left propped on hands and knees. They’d been found in abandoned warehouses around the outskirts of Boston.

No prints.

No witnesses.

No leads.

But something, a faint echo of insight, tugged at the edge of Linda’s mind, depriving her of sleep.

Linda arrived at a warehouse in Revere. The parking lot was loaded with official vehicles, the blue strobes flicking off the stained brick façade of the building. The Revere cops stood around looking resentful while the Staties conducted their investigation. As a State Police detective, Linda was allowed to enter immediately.

Marty – State Police Lieutenant Martin Sutherland – approached her from the shadows.

“Upstairs in the back office. Just follow your nose.” Marty accompanied her to the base of the stairs and yelled up, “Alright, clear the fuck out of there and let Einhorn have at it.”

Linda ascended the stairs, steeling herself. The sweet odor of rotted flesh and blood forced a hand to her face.

As the last of the crime scene techs walked past her, Linda entered the office. It was small, cramped, but with a large window through which, she assumed, a manager could supervise the floor. Linda looked up. Brown stains spread like old maps on the suspended ceiling tiles.

A spotlight stood in the corner to her right, illuminating the star of the show.

White male, approximately forty-five years old. He was naked and draped over a low-slung bench. At first glance, one would think he was up on all fours.

As expected, a broken mop handle protruded from the victim’s anus, the mop giving the appearance of a bushy tail. He’d been spray-painted white and stood out in stark contrast to the bloodied, dirty office décor.

There was a transverse slit across his throat. On his head was a silver-pink wig, like a horse’s mane. Under his chin, a section of rusted pipe held his head up. His milky, lifeless eyes were frozen in a rictus of surprise and horror.

Then Linda noticed it: an ice pick with a spiral white handle planted firmly in the victims’ forehead.

“A unicorn,” she whispered to herself.

Her mind raced through the prior crime scenes.

A pink painted victim with blue mane and tail.

A black ‘horse’ with his forearms broken to make it appear he was prancing.

“Oh my God,” Linda said to no one. And it all fell into place.

She rushed back down the stairs.

Marty was waiting at the bottom with a cup of coffee.

“That was quick. How’d you like the ice pick? Nice touch, eh? We’ll be here all nigh-“

“A  carousel. He’s making a carousel, Marty. Look where the bodies were found. Revere, the North End, Braintree. He’s making a carousel around Boston.”

Marty grabbed her arm and pulled her into a corner.

“It’s not him, Linda. Stop torturing yourself.”

Linda stared through the ceiling up into the office and thought of the Unicorn up there.

Her daughter, Sammie, had loved unicorns. Each time she and her ex-husband Peter had brought their little girl to the Salem Willows, Sammie had only one desire: to ride the unicorn on the ancient carousel.

The day Sammie was taken, Peter was playing Skee-Ball in the arcade next door. Later that night, the Salem cops had found Sammie – or what was left of her – in a dumpster at Pickering Wharf.

Linda had of course focused all her grief and anger on Peter. The marriage was over. How could they make life whole again with Sammie’s violent absence living in the house with them?

“Where were you?” How many times had Linda thrown that in his face?

Peter had left before the divorce was final. Almost two years now.

Then, about four months ago, the bodies started showing up.

No one could know about the carousel. But Linda’s suspicions were now confirmed. She knew it in her bones that Peter was the one.

“Hey, kid. Why don’t you go home? I’ll clean this fucking mess up and we’ll regroup tomorrow at the barracks.” Marty could be tender on those occasions when he remembered he still had a heart.

“Thanks.” Linda was stunned. Not sure what to do next.

At home in bed, Linda wept as she hadn’t allowed herself to weep for the past two years.

In the fetal position, she finally dropped off to a tortured sleep.

In her dream she heard the carousel’s crazy carnival music. The lights blinked and the sun glinted off the many mirrors on the ride.

Sammie, as usual, rode the tall, white unicorn with its flaring nostrils and gleaming brilliance. Peter stood next to her, making sure she didn’t slide off the oscillating beast.

With each revolution, Sammie’s faced grew paler and started to putrefy. Finally, Linda saw Sammie come around, dead, mutilated, gripping the pole that rose up out of the unicorn’s back.

Linda was sobbing in her sleep. In her dream, she was screaming.

On the final revolution, Peter came into view laughing, holding an ice pick aloft.

And he descended from the carousel toward Linda, like an avenging angel.

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Image by Dominic’s Pics

This is the latest Flash Challenge for Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.


All the Way Around the World….

All the Way Around the World was originally published on this blog a few months back; however, Chuck Wendig over at terribleminds.com has issued this week’s Flash Fiction Challenge: An Uncharted Apocalypse. Follow the link to read the variety of submitted tales of the Apocalypse. Happy reading!

cornfield sunrise

Delsante Corporation told me I could take it or leave it. Can you believe that?

My family owned this farm for ninety-two years before I had to go and sell a majority stake to a local distributor. Well, Delsante is way up his ass so you know they’re now up mine.

But I tell you what: if I make it out of this alive, I am sure going to enjoy watching those corporate bastards take a red-hot one in the ass. Same for the USDA.

We had no choice. They told us to plant the G646-DSGMO-666 or we could forget about distribution of any of our corn. Well, if we can’t sell anything, we may as well just give the farm to Delsante and be done with it. They’ll hire some Mexicans to come up here and plant that shit for them and they’ll never even remember my name.

So we planted it, watered it, and did fuck-all that their scientists told us to do. Have to admit, I’ve never in my life seen corn get so big so fast. After a month, I could disappear into those fields. And I’m six-three.

The USDA inspector came out one day along with a fella from Delsante. They were so impressed with how things were coming along. They took some cuttings away in a small plastic bag. Never said a word to me what they were for.

Well, along about eighty days into the growing cycle we started seeing a rust-colored pus oozing out of that corn. I told everyone to stay the fuck out of the fields and not touch anything. We walked the perimeter. That stuff just dripped down the ears. I got on the horn to the local distributor rep and I guess he called Delsante, because they came out to the farm with a huge RV that had a lab right inside of it.

They set up spotlights on the cornfield and kept them going all night long. They said it was just a precaution. Precaution for what? I remember thinking at the time.

There were lots of guys in lab coats and SWAT uniforms. Nobody told us any details about the pus, but I could tell they hadn’t expected it, and they were running around like their heads were on fire and their asses were catchin’.

Each morning, they put on space suits and walked out into that cornfield. Each afternoon they’d emerge with that rusty pus smeared across their suits, carrying laptops and samples.

One day, I was over in the barn replacing a fuel filter on one of the combines when I hear somebody start screaming. I thought one of the lab guys had stepped in horseshit again. I walked out and saw a huge red dust cloud swirling around above the field. All the lab guys and the SWATs were gasping and choking, falling to the ground. They twitched for a second, and then were still.

I know what dead looks like. I was a corpsman in Vietnam. And these people were dead. I know it. But then that red dust started making its way toward me.

Not thinking, I just ran back inside the barn and made for the combine. Closed myself inside the cab. The wind blew that red dust right into the barn and it covered everything. I can’t see anything through the cab windows.

 I don’t have any food or water in here. And I have no way of knowing what happened to my family and my staff.

So, I’m hoping Delsante Corporation sends someone out soon to find out what happened to their scientists and soldiers. I saw them die; at least I think I did. But now I hear things shuffling around the barn and grunting. And one time, something tried to open the cab door, while I held it shut with all my strength, too terrified to breathe. I don’t even want to think about what that thing was.

Far as I can tell, anyone coming near this farm will meet the same fate as those things stumbling around my barn. The chemistry folks at Delsante sure did a bang up job. The only thing I know about chemistry is H-2-0 is water and K-9-P comes out the ass end of a dog. But, I’m a farmer and I know pollen when I see it. That red pus dries and blows off. I think Delsante Corporation has a little problem with their fucked up corn.

G646-DSGMO-666 was engineered to survive. I think of all that pollen on the wind.

You can’t stop the wind. It goes all the way round the world.


Margo Heats It Up…

Author’s note: if you’re new to this blog, you may want to read the previous installments of Margo’s story:

Hermosa Beach Heartache

Margo in Rome

An Unexpected Guest

UPDATE: Chuck Wendig over at the great blog, terribleminds has issued a flash fiction challenge regarding “The Lady and The Swordsman”.  Now, although this story was written before Chuck announced the challenge, AND, although this story is above the 1,000 word limit, I felt it should be entered into the challenge for two compelling reasons:

1. “The Lady and Swordsman” seems to apply, thematically

and

2. Margo is a child of the terribleminds flash fiction challenge – you could say it’s her birthplace, her home (see above for earlier Margo stories).

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Margo Heats It Up

He looked like Omar Sharif. Abrams was right.

His name was Ephraim Zanzibar, and he was a very bad man.

Margo’s knowledge was founded on personal experience, not just talk on the wire.

She’d met Zanzibar in a hotel in Hermosa Beach several months before. Abrams had blackmailed her into seducing the guy for information. Of course, he’d failed to tell her about Zanzibar’s kink: raping women after knocking them out with roofie-laced drinks.

Margo had started out the assignment refusing to kill Zanzibar, wanting something different for herself. And, of course, for the baby and Dan.  But after two hours with the man, she’d known the world would turn more safely with Ephraim Zanzibar unceremoniously turned to crab shit off the Hermosa Beach pier.

Margo had entered his room at the Del Ray hotel and asked him for a vodka rocks. She taken her drink to the bathroom and poured it into the sink, replacing it with water. Her baby was going to have enough trauma that evening without bringing alcohol into the picture, she’d figured.

What had ensued still sickened Margo. But now, she had Mr. Ephraim Zanzibar in her sights. And things were going to get hot.

Margo edged around the riot of bougainvillea and jasmine that surrounded the compound. The sound of Egyptian pop music poured out of the open French doors. The cloying scent of jasmine turned her stomach slightly, but the sheer mass of it hid her from Zanzibar’s view.

Thank God, the morning sickness was all in the past, Margo thought.

Zanzibar was dressed in a white silk bathrobe. He had drinks in either hand and, with closed eyes, swayed to the music. He was completely unaware of Margo’s presence, in the dark, not four feet in front of him.

A young woman entered the room wearing a nothing but a black bra and thong. Zanzibar passed her a drink and pretended to engage her in a dance. The young woman finished the drink in three gulps. Margo of course knew what was coming.

Once the woman was staggering slightly, Zanzibar reached back and punched her squarely in the face. She went down and didn’t move. He moved in like a hyena at the kill.

That’s enough, Margo said to herself.

She drew her Luger and stepped out of the darkness into the soft, yellow light of the open French doors. Zanzibar’s eyes widened when he saw her: black jumpsuit and ski mask.

He turned and started to shout but she reached him in two long strides and pushed the gun’s muzzle firmly against his temple. Margo whispered, “Hello Omar.” She traced the gun along the ridge of his deformed left ear.

“What the fuck are you supposed to be? Some kind of half-assed Ninja?” His cologne was as bad as the jasmine and Margo pushed him away, keeping the gun leveled directly at his face.

She pulled the mask off. “How’s your ear?”

“You!”

“Looks like you were planning on having some fun here tonight, Zanzibar. Sorry to break up your lovely party. I’ll be taking her when I leave.”

He shrugged and smiled. “More, many more, where she came from. Maybe you’d like to take her place? We never got to finish back in Hermosa Beach.”

Margo remembered the first wave of unreality that had alerted her to the fact she’d been drugged back at the Del Ray. She’d taken a long, deep gulp of her water, but he’d somehow slipped a roofie in there. He was good, no doubt. It seemed only seconds before she was reeling.

She had staggered toward the door but he’d grabbed her wrist and yanked her back into a bear hug. Margo had bit down and ripped off a large chunk of his left ear, which she’d spat into Zanzibar’s face. His punch brought stars and then a deep, velvet blackness.

When she’d come around, she was naked, lying on the bed on her stomach. He was on her back, trying to push his cock into her ass. Her first thought had been, at least this will be easier on the baby.

At one point, he’d pushed off of her and gone to the bathroom.

This is it, move Margo! she’d told herself through her stupor.

Lying there, she’d had a vision of the baby, of Dan, and of the new life she wanted. She’d bit down, hard, hard, hard, on her tongue. Blood had spattered the sheet as she’d swung her head back and forth, trying desperately to wake up. She’d been able to scramble to the door, get on her knees, open it, and fall forward into the hallway. Then she’d crawled like a crab to the fire alarm, reached up, and pulled for all she was worth, flooding the hotel with its wail. Zanzibar appeared in his doorway just as the other Del Ray guests were emerging to gawk and scream at the bloody, naked woman with the dazed but crazy eyes.

“Oh, I’ll be finishing all right. I need to go image your hard drive. You, in the meantime, can sit down right here while I tie your ass up.”

Zanzibar started a low, guttural laugh. A troll’s laugh. “You’ve put on some weight since we last met. You can’t blame me…I used the other hole.”

Margo shot off his left kneecap.

“Aarrgghhhh! You miserable bitch!”

“Shut up or the other one goes, too.”

Margo tied his hands behind his back. He was going nowhere, with no hands and one leg.

After making a copy of Zanzibar’s hard drive, she came lightly down the stairs. This should get Abrams off her back, finally.

She went into the bathroom. She had to piss like no one’s business. She looked at herself in the mirror. Baby bump clearly showing now.

Back in the living room, Zanzibar was looking pale and pissed off.

She took a small envelope out of her back pocket. It was filled with something lumpy.

“Omar, there was a time when I would have made you cut off your own dick and eat it.”

Waving the envelope in front of Zanzibar, she continued, “But, I’m trying to have a new life. Something that makes me happy instead of satisfied. There’s a difference, you know. I’m sure you wouldn’t understand.”

She opened the envelope. It was filled with fiery, red peppers.

“These are my  roofies, Omar,” Margo said. “I wouldn’t want to leave you with the impression that my desire to turn over a new leaf has somehow dulled my sense of justice.”

She pushed Zanzibar’s bathrobe up and crammed the first red pepper up into his ass.

He moaned loudly.

“This may get nasty. Hold on a minute,” she said.

Margo returned with a dishrag that she pushed deep into Zanzibar’s mouth.

“That’s better.” And she shoved another pepper deep into him.

And then another.

And another.

“Hmmmpphhh. HMMMPPPHHH!” It was all the sound he could make. Tears filled his eyes.

“Did you know you have digestive juices in your rectum? It’s true. Wait until they get a load of these, Omar. This should help you remember what you did to me and all the others.”

Zanzibar’s face was purple with pain and rage. Veins bulged in his neck and forehead.

“I’m going to leave the rest of these for you. As a memento,” Margo said, and threw the envelope onto the table, spilling some of the peppers.

Then she went into the other room and picked up the comatose girl. “C’mon, baby doll. This is no place for nice girls like us.”

On the way out, Margo leaned down and kissed the envelope, on a whim.

Then she kicked Ephraim Zanzibar in the balls, as hard as she could.

“Don’t come looking for me, Zanzibar, you fucking loser. You’re the last bit of shit I need to wipe off my shoes so I can start a real life.”

After dropping the girl off at an emergency room door, Margo went in search of Abrams.

To give him the disk.

And to claim her future.

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Once again, Margo image by Nathan Eckinrode

Hot pepper image by Nina Matthews


The Martyr of Evolution…

The Martyr of Evolution

 

Joan is close.

I can hear her servos whirring somewhere over by the boiler. Did she unplug herself?

Joan never liked the motherboard at the back of her head. I could see it hurt her when I installed it, but I thought she’d calm down when I severed her cervical neuronic relays. That was a mistake. I can see that now. Because Joan realizes she will feel no physical pain from her jaws down. No matter what I do to her now. That’s what’s given her this boost of self-confidence, godammit.

Does she really think she can win at this?

Whirrrrrr – click – whirrrrr.

A little closer, but still far enough away for me to come up with a plan.

I knew I shouldn’t have painted the cellar windows black. All for security, of course, but now the blackness is total; Joan’s gone and shorted the breakers. Probably whirred over there while I was at the Quickie Mart and slammed a titanium hex-rod right into the board. She’d have the strength.

I left her plugged in clear on the other side of the cellar. So, she’s either found an extension cord – which I find doubtful, given the fact that I removed all of them to avoid this very turn of events – or, she’s unplugged herself and is hoping to get out or at least get her hands on me before her mobile pack runs down.

She was once my lab assistant as well as my wife, so she knows how this all works.

Her next-gen NiCad power source will last three- maybe four- hours, tops. The exoskeleton is heavy. So without the power to move the servos, she’ll be dead in the water. All I need do is stay away from her until her batteries die, and then move in and kill her. It’s not worth the risk of keeping her going now.

I’d make a run for the breaker board, but, knowing Joan, that would be unwise. She’s angry. I guess I can’t totally blame her, but I’ve Borg’d her in a way that no one outside a Universal Studios lot could ever envision. I tried to show her there was an upside to this for her, a way for her to be powerful, as she was always saying she wanted to be. But, as usual, it was all tears and anger. More of Joan being controlled by men. She should be grateful I took her away from that awful father of hers.

When I decided to try the experiment, everything just fell into place. Joan lost her job at Parkside Elementary as a first grade assistant. She came crying to me, even though our divorce was final two years ago. With no friends or family who would ever come looking for her, it was a perfect meeting of motivation and opportunity.

First, it was easy to drop her last month with a moderate Benadryl dose in her chardonnay, which, following her dismissal from Parkside, I was finally able to convince her to try.

Scrrrrape – whirrrrrr – click – click.

She’s down on the floor, I guess, about ten feet in front of me. That noise is unnerving in the dark. The whirring. And the scraping on the concrete floor.

Behind me, I can hear one of the cats hissing at a mouse. I want to throw something at it, but I don’t want to give away my position.

The actual installation of the exoskeleton was easier than I’d imagined. A lot of antiseptic gel, sutures, and cutting. The months of study and practice paid off. Once I got her post-op fever under control, I was able to start the wiring – my real area of expertise.

Of course, the exoskeleton was cumbersome during our, well, intimate moments. But I was able to unplug her cables to freeze her scaffolding in any position I wanted. No more fighting back. No more headaches. No more bashful Joan.

I wanted to prove that I could control her neurological life with just a hard drive, some easily downloadable software, and a few coaxial cables plugged into a motherboard sliced into Joan’s brainstem. The titanium exoskeleton proved to be a superb bio-electric pathway for brain stem impulses to travel uninterrupted to her neocortex and then back to the hard drive in a beautiful feedback loop.

You see, Joan’s ceaseless moaning was freaking me out. So I removed her larynx. But then, a funny thing happened. My hard drive started registering electron-volt spikes that weren’t explained by any potentials that would be in play. I could only assume it was Joan’s emotional reaction to her predicament plowing upriver through the lizard brain to the neocortex and thence down the coaxial cables back to the computer. This was exciting. If the correct software was available, I could’ve taken those e-volt spikes as raw data and plugged them into a linguistic integrative algorithm that just might have transformed that emotional energy into words. Hello Nobel Prize….

But then tonight happened. Joan got loose.

Clang – sic. Whirrrr – click.

She’s close now. This is no longer funny.

Her whirring locates her directly between me and the cellar stairs. Her power should have bottomed out by now. What’s going on?

Whirrrrr – scrrrrrrrrrrape.

I can hear the table with the computer sliding to me know. She’s pulling the entire set up behind her via the coax cables.

The cat behind me suddenly jumps down onto my shoulder and I scream and leap forward. My foot kicks something heavy lying on the floor in front of me: the exoskeleton.

Behind me the cat hisses at something again.

Then whirrrrr.

I reach down and feel the coolness of the titanium rods. The frame is empty.

Where is Joan?

I suddenly realize it is not the cat hissing behind me.

A flashlight snaps on. And there she is: bleeding and angry in the harsh white light.

Her eyes bulge, shot through with a primal madness. Blood and mucus slide her neck from the laryngectomy incision. An unnatural hissing issues from the hole in her throat. In her hand is a scalpel that I recognize only too well.

 As she descends on me, I think of electricity and beauty and wires and flesh.

And then Joan becomes the angel of my vision.

The martyr of evolution.

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Really, really cool image by Webwizzard


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