It’s late. I’m posting this. I don’t even know why. I’m so tired. Lots of homework and I’m not even done. Just gotta laugh it off. Here. Maybe this Ficly will make you laugh. I doubt it, but if it does… well… Go find help.
“Have you had enough, son?”
The man nodded, juice dripping from his chin as he glanced up at the older man. A wrinkled old hand lent itself to the younger gentleman’s shoulder.
“Are you sure you’re full?”
The man smiled with an blank gaze. He turned back to the brown mush in his bowl, the iron spoon listing slightly out of the bowl before clattering to the stained table below. Deep, hollowed knots in the wood of the counter on which the man ate. Sometimes he ate with a utensil, sometimes with his fingers, but always for the past month here, he had eaten twice a day, the same brown salty meal the texture of warm oats and milk.
The rooms of the house were always well lit, those that he had been allowed to explore at any rate, and the carpet clean, the furniture brushed and flowers placed out each week on the small glass coffee table by the couch, but the priestly old figure refused to entertain guests whom were not inclined to spend any more than two weeks. Well, that had been alright for those many who had passed through the door. A long stay was perhaps just what they were looking for.
The juice fell from the younger man’s chin. He had grown fat in the month, and slow. And while everything seemed the same that morning, there was now a change in the older fellow he had not seen since right before the last guest left.
“Well.” The quivering voice said, a kind of desperation in anticipation waiting immediately below the surface. “If you’re quite finished, perhaps it’s time I show you the basement, hurm?”
Wrote this in September of ’09 for and independent fiction study class. Not sure how good it is, you’ll let me know.
The line about the inscription is a shout out to my grandmother, who came up with that phrase, as far as I know.
The sun lifts itself over the eastern hills, greeting chapped earth as dry and cracked as the chalky houses. This is cow country, or it used to be. The one road that leads through town is a stretch of pavement that used to carry three hundred people daily to and from… wherever. Now even those with their health brave enough to venture out onto the burning tar that used to be Main Street will avoid most of the houses. Those from which people entered and never left have a particular, easily identifiable smell, which permeates the air for almost fifty feet around them. One such house lies at the end of the road, where an elderly couple used to live.
Perhaps the story began two days earlier. Coffee grounds, two porcelain dolphins, a record, several bills, a family photo, and one piece of stale bread hit the floor as Eric Sanders cleared the kitchen counter. The utility company had just shut off everyone’s water. The cupboard held several gallons of water, but in the incredible heat, he was forced to preserve his precious resource, and wonder what measures he would be forced to take to keep Rebecca and himself alive. He moved onto the bed, next to her, naked. She never stirred, but her old wrinkled lips, cracking open asked, “How much longer, Eric?”
Her voice was hoarse, a pleading tone was prevalent in her whimper. He offered to get her some water but she refused. She would die later on, and he would never stop wondering if it might have made a difference, made her more comfortable, should she have accepted. He let his head hit the pillow in the dark room.
Opening her eyes, she looked towards the curtains, “It shouldn’t be so hot during the nights. Open the curtains, will you Eric? That’s nice, thank you. Morning already, huh? How long is this supposed to go on honey? I thought the police were going to bring us somewhere else. Like Alaska…” She sighed a deep shaking sigh, thinking of the cool air and snow. Her throat burned and she sat up, coughing and tearing until the discomfort subsided. Eric offered water again, she refused. He shifted nervously.
“What are you saving the water for?”
“Well,” she said, “We might need it later if we’re in trouble.”
She sounded almost as if she believed it. He asked what would happen if they weren’t around later. She avoided his question by coughing again. He spoke.
“The police couldn’t take everyone honey, and hey, I hear Alaska isn’t what’s it’s cracked up to be.”
She gingerly touched her tender broken lips as he said the word “cracked.” It echoed through his mind as well and he looked her up and down. Her feet were pale, and she moved slowly. It was hard to imagine this is what had become of the beautiful Katherine Sanders.
She waited for a moment, then, sitting up, “It isn’t hot there too is it?”
“No…” He whispered as a child might when sharing a secret with another. “I mean, honestly, I’m sure you wouldn’t much like it there.” He rarely lied to her, but occasionally denial was the best remedy for panic. “I’m sure it’s life as usual up in the north.”
“Well, why don’t we go? We could make it!”
Eric knew that she was aware they wouldn’t be able to. Two gallons of fuel in a ’97 Ford pickup wouldn’t get much farther than thirty miles, and there was nowhere to refill the tank. He smiled a broken smile, his lips bled. His tongue felt the upper portion of his mouth, and he scrapped against the dryness. He stopped smiling. Eric was now very stiff, sitting upright in a chair, in the partially lit room. He considered lighting up, but there was only one cigarette left, and the necessity to keep the windows shut would have left smoke in the room. He coughed at the thought.
Outside, he watched a sparrow soar into view of the window, and land gracefully on a leafless tree. It peered through the glass, looked at Eric, swayed on the branch, and plummeted to the dirt below. A hot wind blew across the farming town, which had been transformed into the set of a bad Hollywood movie in a matter of days. There was a moan from across the street that filled the air, and then silence. After several minutes two men came knocking at the door of the house with guns, there was no answer. From Eric’s window he watched the play, protected by the fourth wall.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before he turned from the presentation to look at his wife of 40 years, and he found that little separated his reality from the events unfolding outside. His thoughts were punctuated abruptly.
There was a knock at the door. Then a pounding. Before Eric had even considered answering the call, the door snapped open, swinging into the room on its bent hinges. A young man, sweating, but in altogether decent condition, moved into the apartment. His shirt was covered in a thin red paste. He fingered the trigger of a long rifle, the barrel gleaming in the light from the open window. He pointed at Eric, then Rebecca, and back to Eric. He grunted, angrily.
The man’s accent was foreign, to be sure. He shook slightly, pupils dilated. In another world he would have been another person, maybe somewhere else reading about the hell that was burning its way across North America but, ultimately, not caring, or at most, being too overwhelmed to be able to react. Perhaps his emotions were very much the same now as they might have been were he living in another world. Too overwhelmed to react.
Eric looked at his wife. The man made his demand again, but abruptly lowered his gun and started pacing, scratching the back of his head. His hands shook and he frequently twitched and then screamed. He spoke violently in sentences that were less than coherent. Eric stood, and, for the first time in the week since the temperature had so drastically increased, felt a cold sweat, and it was relieving.
Light crossed the man’s face. He couldn’t have been older than nineteen or twenty. Bullets may miss their mark, and loose their lethality, but desperation is a guaranteed killer. A haze gathered outside as the sun climbed, man’s eternal savior, man’s greatest damnation. Armed with two feet of lead and fire in a neat lock, stock, and barrel package, he approached the window, slowly, moving past Eric, who slid out of the way and went to fetch a bottle of water. What it was like to be trapped in a place where he knew not the language, Eric could not have understood. To be there during a bout with apocalypse? Eric shook his head. Days ago when he still had his strength he might have been panicked, but he enjoyed what he could only describe as an unnerving calm. The young man’s nose dripped with sweat.
Katherine had been staring during the proceedings, and she, being more or less ignored by the gunman, reached for an ashtray to throw at him. She moved slowly. Her old fingers gripped the warm glass surface of the diner-style tray. An aerosol can fell from her bedside table, and the man turned to look, still mumbling to himself. The reflecting light from her shallow ash tray hit the mans eye, and he stepped backwards. The object struck him in the nose with a resounding crunch.
His gun was lifted quickly, and as Eric began to run, or stumble, with a bottle of water in hand, a shot was fired, and Katherine fell backward on her pillow, her stomach shredded. Blood spattered the walls and mixed with that which was already on the man’s shirt. The gun turned to point at Eric, a shaking old man who dropped what he had been holding, and ran to Katherine’s side. He knelt but did not touch her. His knees hit the wood floor. Outside, the two men who had entered the home across the street exited, and one wiped his mouth. They began to run towards Eric’s home. He heard them beat on the door.
Panicked the man raised the weapon to shoulder height, and screamed in his broken English, “Water!”
Holding out his hand, offering the bottle to the man, who then grabbed it violently, Eric looked into the kitchen, towards his dwindling water supply, which had now effectively doubled with the death of his companion. Twenty years ago he had gone on a health kick and redone his kitchen to match his new lifestyle. He had changed the paint, and the appliances. He gave up on exercise four or five months later, but the kitchen stayed. He had bought an enormous stainless steel fridge to keep fruits in so he could eat one after a workout. The fridge was stainless steel because he liked the aesthetics and the idea. He liked being part of the modern world, and looking forward to the future. Those had been his emotions when he saw his fridge. Now it was empty. Now there was now future to enjoy with his fridge, and now even the modern world was gone.
Naked, on his knees, he gestured towards where he kept the water. This man was good looking, unnaturally so. His perfect face, symmetrical, became more beautiful by the second as, bewildered, Eric watched him back up slowly, but with a hurried nature. His good looks were a blatant insult to the destroyed beauty on the bed. Eric wanted to scream, to kill him, but didn’t. Instead he watched, thinking that it would all be over soon, that he would be joining Katherine very soon. The gunman pulled open the cupboard and crammed as many of the bottles as he could into his pants, shirt, and pockets. There were footsteps on the stairs down the hall. The gunman ran from the room, into the hallway, and heading towards the stairs on the opposite side of the building.
Moments past. An eternity. A fraction of a second. With the mangled corpse of his dream girl next to him, time was virtually irrelevant. Eric wanted to bury his head in her breasts and cry. He didn’t save her, he didn’t keep her safe. Her wedding gift to him, a framed picture of them, her inscription reading “Always and All Ways.”
Two men passed the door, one doubled back.
“Eric?” It was one of the farm hands. Likely one of the few people living or dead left in the town. Most had left early on when they still could. The man was silent, looking at Katherine’s remains.
Several gunshots follow in the street below. Eric woke up from his stupor. He went to the window to watch Katherine’s killer run off into the emptiness outside of the small village. His pursuer stopped and spoke towards the window.
“He won’t last long out there.” He said it with a quiet certainty, “Won’t last long anywhere I reckon.”
Eric shook his head. This was Cow Country, or it used to be.
A Ficly about an unnaturally series of deaths, a gritty tale inspired by the classic 50′s b-horror film. Everything needs a gritty reboot! (Spiderman 4, anyone?)
A twenty-five year victim of a gangland war. Two and a half decades in urban hell, cut down years past his prime.
Coffee splashes down my throat like a river of fire. I wipe the crust from my eyes. Two days later and they’re still dredging the swamp just outside city limits. The suddenness of the chief’s statement was unnerving. Standing around the rotting rank naked torso in six inches of water, looking through the fog at the deep grooves in the mud caused by clutching fingers, the phantom of the scream echoing in our minds, he said what we were all thinking.
“I don’t know what it was, but something came out of those waters.”
Someone asked if it could have been an alligator. We all kind of doubted that.
We stormed back to the cars like a bunch of fascists and hit the streets twice as hard, beating skulls in and blowing doors down like big bad wolves because there was a dead cop, or at least part of one, and we didn’t know who or what did it. Maybe the worst part of it was the fact that it wasn’t the first time. The list is at least ten names long, not all of them officers of the law. I’m starting to hope that it actually is a serial killing alligator. I can out smart that. I scared out of my mind that it might be something else.
Originally on Ficly:
Part One: http://ficly.com/stories/17044
Part Two: http://ficly.com/stories/17045
Ficly of two or two and a half times standard length. This one is about a mysterious character to is called in to help out an old friend who finds themselves in a bit of a predicament.
I was framed in the doorway to her living room, listening to her recount the incident. It was all bull. She hovered and brushed on the truth but kept saying things like, “He came at me, that son of a bitch.” I had this small three by five legal pad out and the pen was in my mouth while I scratched the back of my head and waited for her to be done. Had this been twenty years ago I might not have picked up on her nervous tells, but now I’d seen enough.
She paused and we looked down at the body on the rug and the big red stain. I looked over at her. No bruises, no sign of abuse. Either she was packing when he came at her, or her whole story was made up.
“You said this was your brother’s boyfriend?”
She nodded. I observed the room just a bit longer, turning the lights on and off, trying to see if anything would catch my eye. No dice, just a big fat guy with a bullet in his head lying on the Turkish rug in the center of the room. What a mess.
I turned to her, “This is gonna to run you three grand.”
She glanced over, a little bit surprised, but her face softened and she said, “But baby, what about for old times sake?”
I knocked her off. “Get out of here kiddo, the old times weren’t so damn long ago and they weren’t all that good then, and trust me, my opinion on them hasn’t changed.”
She pouted, “Well come on, now. You used to by the five grand man! Five for a hit, two for cleanup. Why jack up your prices now?”
“It’s a deal for an old friend.”
“You’re charging me more?” she asked incredulously.
“Yea tuts, and if you want it you better take it. Did I mention that I don’t do murders?” She looked like she was about to explain, again, that it was in self defense, but I cut her off. “I only do cleanup now, that way the only blood that’s on my hands is the literal type.”
“Is this how you treat all your old partners?”
“Don’t flatter yourself. My other partners didn’t leave me when things got tough, and you know what? My old partners kept me out of jail. Now if you want to do this job yourself, be my guest. Three grand, take it or leave it.”
The broad looked at me. The corpse on the floor looked at me. Everything in the room seemed to stare.
She sighed with exasperation, and I turned on my heel and walked towards the front door. She hissed at me:
“Where are you going?”
I tied the belt around the waist on my coat and opened the front door.
“I’m keeping my last shred of dignity.” A cold wind forced itself inside my nose. “See you around.”
Originally on Ficly:
Part One: http://ficly.com/stories/16970
Part Two: http://ficly.com/stories/16971
Part Three: http://ficly.com/stories/16972
A Ficly short about a murder scene.
I crouch down on the balls of my feet and look at the body. What a piece of art. Naked, bloody, left arm almost emancipated from the shoulder.
It’s ten at night, the corpse relaxes, illuminated by the dimness of the street light above. Highway roars in the distance. The buzz and wail of sirens has stopped. I survey the group. Everyone, bleary-eyed, watches from a distance while I snap a few pictures. No one wants to get closer.
It started two months ago, dead man in bathtub, arms and legs bound, head tied to cinder-block. I wonder who the fuck came up with that idea. The five cops who went to check out the body all turned up dead within two days. Those who looked into their murders were dead in six hours. Everyone naked, everyone covered in blood. Primal.
I look back at the half-circle of cars and officers watching from twenty or so feet as I probe the corpse. Maybe this will be me soon. Blue and red lights twirl and flash over the body and me, and it feels for a moment like we’re dancing.
Originally on Ficyl.com: http://ficly.com/stories/15760