Flash Fiction, Shorts

Prologue

Far above the atmosphere of Earth a sleek, silver spacecraft came to a halt. Inside of the spacecraft, which was shaped like a giant metal kidney bean, a group of alien scientists from the planet Castenor sat as they observed life on planet Earth.

The Castenorians were smaller and more disgusting than the humans of Earth. If a man or woman from Earth were to see one, they might say that it looked like a shriveled, wrinkly raisin of a man. Other than that, they mostly resembled humans. Their heads were proportionally larger and, like their ship, reflected the same bean-like nature. The Castenorians had small black beans for eyes, but no mouths for eating or speaking. Large suction cups in the center of each of their palms were used to ingest the large variety of small berries and beans found on Castenor, and they communicated telepathically to one another, sending their thoughts from mind to mind.

“So, planet Earth is finally up for inspection then,” thought Jorgen.

“Took them long enough,” mused Harken, as he sucked up another pickled frumberry. “For such a primitive species, their opinions of themselves seem to be quite great. Frankly, I’m surprised we even got the approval for this.”

“Oh, lay off them, Harken,” thought Burgel. “This is how every young species starts. At one point in our own history, our ancestors were likely quite similar to the humans you see now. But you are right. Their next evolution will be of the mind, not the body.”

“How many subjects will we be testing, then?” thought Jorgen.

“Let’s see,” Harken thought. He consulted his notes on the flatscreen in front of him. “Twelve dozen. A dozen each from various randomized locations.”

“Oh, this always gives me flesh bumps,” thought Burgel. “It’s so exciting. Seeing a species so close to such a monumental change. We could be witnessing history here, my friends. This is why I love my job.”

Harken rolled his eyes and sucked up another pickled frumberry.

“Well then,” thought Jorgen. “We should probably get started on it, then.”

“May as well,” thought Harken.

“Yippee,” thought Burgel.

The three Castenorians focused their attention on Earth, deciding where the dozen dozens would be drawn from. To decide, they spun a model globe and stopped it with a single spindly finger. They stopped on China, and they stopped on Alaska. Sudan, Brazil, Australia, and Costa Rica were also chosen. One stopped somewhere in the Pacific, and another in the Arctic. Russia, Scotland, and Greenland were picked next.

The last was somewhere in North America.

“Shall we place the usual bets, then?” Jorgen thought.

“Ninety-percent failure,” thought Harken. “Ten-percent success.”

“That’s a bit pessimistic, don’t you think?” thought Burgel. “Forty-six-percent failure. Fifty-four-percent success. I’d like to see this planet do well. Humans are fascinating.”

“Fifty-percent failure, fifty-percent success, then,” thought Jorgen.

“Always even odds with you, Jorgen,” thought Harken.

“At least he gives them a chance,” thought Burgel.

With the lots drawn, the Castenorians began selecting separate regions from each initial pick. From every selected region one human being was chosen, again at random, for testing. The process could take an indefinite amount of time, but time was one thing that the Castenorians had in good supply. Once their subjects were selected they began their study.

They began their study, and they watched, and they waited.

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Flash Fiction, Shorts

Words

In the beginning there were no words. 

It all started with a single hesitant mark. Then a few more. Soon the first word was finished. It was a good word, but it seemed lonely sitting all there by itself, so another came along and took it by the hand. 

Together the two words rallied together to a single cause. Their purpose was not clear at first, but they reassured every word that followed that it would all soon make sense. They gathered hundreds of words, then thousands, and rearranged them in a cohesive order, and cut some which were not needed. They changed their minds a dozen times throughout the whole process. Then they gathered more. 

When they were finally satisfied with all of the words they had arranged, the two words placed themselves far at the back, behind every single other word. They were the final piece to their great achievement, and what fueled and motivated them to keep going. And when they sat themselves at the very last page they knew that all who read their work would be satisfied only after reading those last two words. 

The End.

 

Flash Fiction, Shorts

The Brick

Colin heard the sound of shattering glass coming from downstairs. Then a thump.

Thinking someone was trying to break in, he grabbed the only weapon he had; a small pocketknife that sat on his desk. He paused, listening. He didn’t want to take a single step if there was someone in the house. They’d hear the creak and surely come bolting up the stairs to kill him. He waited for a whole minute before he started creeping down the stairs.

There was broken glass on the floor of the living room, and one of his windows had a perfect, brick-sized hole through it. He went back upstairs, slipped on a pair of shoes, and went down again. The glass cracked under his feet as he walked over to the brick sitting on the floor.

It had a little notebook attached to it with a rubber band. Colin picked up the brick, took the notebook out and opened it.

USER MANUAL

*Note: If using brick for construction purposes, please refer to the back of the manual.

  1. If this manual was attached to a brick that was thrown through your window, you must keep it.
  2. Cover hands with gloves. (i.e. leather, latex…) Anything that will prevent fingerprints from showing on the surface of the brick.
  3. Retrieve a second brick by your own means.
  4. Secure the User Manual onto the second brick.
  5. Pick a house. Any house.
  6. Toss the brick through a window of your own choosing (See fig. 1 for proper throwing technique).

Colin set the manual aside and called the police. When they arrived, he showed them the brick and the manual and asked them what they thought of it. The officers shifted their weight and grunted, and scratched their chins, but in the end had no answer to give to Colin. They told him that they would make an effort to drive by his block more often, and that should scare whoever it was away. They left the brick and notebook with him, and said he should probably get rid of both.

Colin didn’t sleep that night. He kept thinking whoever it was would come back. He had placed the brick on the kitchen table with the User Manual until he knew what to do with it. That night, while lying in bed, his thoughts drifted toward the curious events of the past day, and if he would ever know who threw the brick. He wondered if it was the same person who had written the manual.

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction, Shorts

Coal-Rolling

Grover Miller had been working in his garage for over a week, and his wife was worried about his health.

Grover was a political activist now. Ever since the government was threatening to cut back on oil usage. He’d be damned if he ever drove one of those smart cars or electric pussy wagons that he was seeing more and more of these days.

That’s why he was adding smokestacks to his lifted, diesel truck. At first, he put on a single and ran it in the garage. The black smoke was intoxicating to him, and he breathed it in freely. After a racking cough, he decided that one simply wouldn’t do. He needed to show those darned liberals that he could do whatever he wanted with his life.

His wife checked on him frequently. Always asking if he didn’t want to work on his truck with the garage door open so he could get some fresh air. Grover just laughed and told her no one would be getting fresh air once he was through.

Grover finished his truck once he added two more smokestacks. Then he ran it in his garage and watched the black smoke pour out. The black smog billowed to the top of the garage and quickly filled the small space. Grover jumped in the air and clapped his hands.

While he was laughing and celebrating, Grover Miller choked on the smog that was filling up his garage. He asphyxiated before he could get to the door.

 

 

Flash Fiction, Shorts

Utopia

“Humph,” the man grunted as he crossed his arms. Nothing was perfect as long as people were involved. They had a surprising knack for mucking up what they tried to fix. The man walked away from the thatch-roof huts and watched the inhabitants of the ‘intentional living facility’ — as they called it– bathe naked in the river.

He was skeptical when he first found the hidden paradise. He had been walking along a well-known path that ran along mountain ridges and through the woods when he saw a deer trail veer off into the trees. Feeling spontaneous at the moment, he followed it, and came across a small valley at the end of the path. A river ran through the middle, and there were huts crafted from twigs and branches and grass on the edge of the bank.

They seemed nice enough when he approached them. Welcoming him with outstretched arms they invited him to sit, eat and drink with them, and told him he could stay as long as he wished. He would only need to contribute in some way.

So he stayed at the edge of the water and helped with the fishing. But while he did, he kept his eyes and ears open. this was one of those supposed ‘utopias’ he had read about. People who thought that an alternative society could work. He scoffed at their pretensions of superiority and looked desperately for an opportunity to expose their selfishness and pride.

He stayed there for weeks. He became much better at fishing, and even built himself his own little hut. Despite his efforts, however, he was unable to find a single thing that was wrong with the place. On the contrary, he found that he liked it very much. The people were nice. They worked for their food in the mornings, and had time for themselves come the afternoon. It seemed a magical place to him.

Then one day they came to him while he was sleeping in his hut. They told him that he could no longer stay. When he objected, they turned him out of his cot and pushed him to the edge of the valley. They gave him no explanation. It simply seemed as though his time were up.

The man left grumbling and grumpy. He found his way back to the familiar mountain path and began to walk back home.

The man walked on the mountain path every day until his knees couldn’t take it anymore. Each day he looked for the old deer trail, but he never saw it again.

 

Flash Fiction, Shorts

The Fourth

Burn. He thought as he lit the match. A flickering spark popped into existence.

The crowd fell silent. All around, blank faces with hungry eyes waited, watching. A little boy picked his nose. A dog barked.

It all happened at once. Suddenly a bright red flash filled the night sky, and the light reflected off of the faces of everyone sitting in the grass. A smaller blue one exploded right after it. The light from the fireworks faded from the sky, but lingered behind closed eyes.

Then he lit them all, and a multitude of explosions cracked through the sky. The colors were magnificent. Yellow and purple danced in the air together, and small green sparks flickered and shone. A golden crackling cascade showered above them all, and under it, giant red bursts of fire filled the air.

It was over all too soon, and everyone walked in a crowd to their cars, and drove in long lines back to their homes. He was the only one who stayed, standing in the grass and watching, where for a few short moments he had made the night sky dance.

For a few short moments, he had felt like a god.

Flash Fiction, Shorts

In the Valley Below the Mountain

In the valley below the mountain, we grow our cane. And in the protective shade of our adobe-slab home, we drink coffee and play cards and wait for the sun to set after a hard day’s work.

We weren’t there when it happened. We had loaded up the truck that day with our week’s shipment, and wouldn’t be back till late. We left Esther and Richie at home since we didn’t need the help.

When the snake bit her, she had about four hours until the poison spread to her heart and killed her. That’s what the doctor told us. We got back that night to find Richie shaking and sobbing in the living room.

Esther had gone for a walk in the heat of the day. She probably hiked to the top of the little hill behind our sugarcane field. It was hot, so she was most likely sweating, and looked for a cool place to sit. That’s when it would have bit her. Pit vipers become extremely aggressive when they feel threatened.

We still live in the valley below the mountain. We still grow our cane.  Now when we go to make our weekly shipments, we bring Richie along. We tell him never to wander far from home, but he doesn’t listen and we get into fights and he storms out.

This isn’t how it was supposed to be.