Flash Fiction, Shorts

McCreary’s Big Move

One day, in a small town in western Pennsylvania, a house picked itself off of the ground and started traveling west. It rose on six metal spindly legs the size of telephone poles. The neighbors looked on in awe as the house shook off its plumbing and wiring, the shackles of an old life.

Now, this house did not move itself; that would be ridiculous. Its owner, Martin McCreary sat atop his makeshift captain’s chair, pulling levers and turning knobs. He cackled at the stupefied looks from his neighbors. The quiet old man had finally snapped, they must think.

McCreary took his house out into the street and headed west. The monstrous, spider-like legs treading destruction wherever they landed, marking the street with numerous potholes and gouging holes in lawns. The neighbors started shouting at him, but McCreary just whooped and hooted, waving at them with a childish grin on his face.

When they had made it into the country and the sun had gone down, McCreary stopped the house, setting it down in a meadow blossoming with dandelions and weeds. He went inside to make himself a cup of tea, remembered he had no water, and came back outside. Then he sat on the roof of his house and watched the stars slowly move across the night sky.

“It’s good to be somewhere else,” he said to himself, and fell asleep under the night sky.

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Flash Fiction, Shorts

A New Me

I walked into the dingy, underground medical facility with only a slight feeling of nausea and anxiety. I passed the rows of clunky and dust-covered medical equipment set up around the wide complex. This place could have once been an old fitness center, or warehouse.

I walked through the center until I found what I was looking for. A middle-aged woman sat next to the plastic recliner, which resembled a dentist’s seat. Tubes and IVs ran along the back of it, and menacing straps revealed their purpose along the length of the chair. The woman looked up at me as I approached. She took a long drag from her e-cigarette before she spoke.

“Two-thousand credits,” she said, letting out a breath of vapor.

“Pay for what you get, huh?” I said. The woman merely nodded in answer and took another drag, the tip of her e-cig glowing blue.

I handed over the money and she gestured for me to sit. When I had, she wasted no time strapping me in, arms, chest, legs, and one that went across the length of my forehead. The hard plastic restraints were uncomfortably tight, so that even my breath came a little harsh. The whole while she kept the little e-cig in her mouth, occasionally puffing on it as she tightened a strap here or loosened one there.

When I was properly secured, she inserted one IV into each of my arms, and placed a tube in my mouth that felt like an oddly shaped pacifier. The anesthetic would come from there, I realized, though they probably wouldn’t knock me out for this. I imagine that would cost me a whole thousand credits more, and I couldn’t afford that.

The woman must have turned the machine on, because a foamy, greenish liquid began to travel through the tube and into my mouth. The taste was like mint and sand, but the consistency was spongy and light. I swallowed with only the knowledge that this whole thing would soon be over, and soon felt a numbness cover my entire body like a warm, wet blanket.

I couldn’t feel the changes quite then, but I knew what the results would be. Having cells that essentially repaired themselves would lengthen my lifespan tenfold. Nanotechnology has come a long way. This sort of procedure was common for the folks who had the money, although they would have it done in legitimate facilities with a full anesthetic. When people wanted their cell repair to work at a hyper-fast rate to say, repair the damage from a possible future bullet wound, they came to a place like this. The drawback, of course, would be that in exchange for the improved speed in cell repair, every time it activated, it would reduce my lifespan by about ten years.

The rush of fluids stopped and the woman stabbed me with a needle in the arm. A sharp, searing pain and then blackness welcomed me home.

I woke up in the same chair. The restraints had been removed and the woman was sitting, watching me while she smoked her e-cig. I sat up and rubbed my head. The procedure had left me a little fuzzy and weak. The woman handed me a glass of water and I drank, grateful for the rush of clear, cold liquid down my throat.

I sat up and flipped out my pocketknife. Then drew a long line across the length of my forearm. The wound opened up, and it still hurt, but didn’t bleed. Instead, I watched as that first layer of skin knit itself back together without leaving even a scar. Feeling like a new man, I smiled and stood up.

I had certain things to attend to.

 

Flash Fiction, Shorts

To Run in His Shoes

John O’Connell woke up and shrugged the sheets off as he swung his legs over the side of his bed. He heard the sounds of Miriam cooking breakfast in the kitchen. He let her know he was awake and she helped him into the shower. After, she pulled his pants through each leg and fed him breakfast, eggs over easy, peanut butter and jelly toast, and a bowl of bran cereal. Miriam already had the newspaper laid out for John to read.

After breakfast, John told Miriam that he wanted to go on his daily run a little early today. Miriam just shrugged and said, “Okay.” She helped him out of his pants and into his running shorts, then tied his shoelaces for him while he stretched. Then she saw him out the door and told him not to be long.

The brisk autumn day made John start off at a speedy pace, anxious to get his blood pumping so he would warm up. His legs pumped as he sped up a hill, and spread out into long easy strides on the way down. He took each deep breath in time with his stride. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Like a castle of sand being washed away, all of John’s frustrations and pent-up rage eased from his mind. He was in control out here. this was his space. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

As he ran he passed a child climbing a tree. He was about six, and hung from a branch with his legs dangling. The two made eye contact and the child watched him with wide eyes. John didn’t stop, and kept running down the street. The child let go of the branch and landed in the soft grass. He watched John fade further into the distance.

He had never seen a man with no arms before.

Flash Fiction, Shorts

The Nauslid

The Nauslid waits unseen. It is between the panels of your walls, and underneath your floorboards. It is the creak you hear in the middle of the night. The tap on your windowpane. It slithers and slides in a slippery fashion and waits for sleep to take you.

When you fall asleep, it slips silently from its hiding place and as a shadow creeps to your side. It hovers over your head and feels the hot steady breath on its snout. It flicks a snakelike proboscis out that tastes the air before inserting itself in your ear canal and attaching to your cochlea.

The Nauslid feeds on the dreams you conjure up during sleep. More accurately, it is a parasite that feeds on the electrochemical signals stimulated by the dreams you dream.

There are few ways to spot the Nauslid, and all of them stress the importance of dream recall. When you wake up, write everything you remember about your dream down in a journal. Keep this up for a few weeks. If you have any recurring dreams, or nightmares, or if you have become lucid more and more frequently, the Nauslid may be present in your home.

There is no effective way to remove a Nauslid once it has claimed a host. All that is left is the knowledge that it will come for your dreams every night. So beware before you attempt to find its existence, for you very well may have it.

And the Nauslid will never leave.

Flash Fiction, Shorts

The Room in a Vacuum

The room was sterile and still, preserved in an indefinite state. The single light bulb sitting in the overhead fan had long since burnt out. A twin mattress lay on the carpeted floor in the corner of the small room. Its sheets smooth and clean. Everything in the room should have collected inches of dust by now, but as if by an occult hand, the hardwood surfaces of both the desk and bookshelf remained clear of any buildup.

On the bookshelf was an assortment of random objects. A half-filled change jar, a deck of cards, several bottle caps, two family pictures, one with a broken frame, a watch that’s hands had stopped at 7:23, one black pen, one unsharpened pencil, and a journal that had never been written in.

The dresser was the same, and every scrap of clothing accounted for, from a pair of mismatched socks to the too-tight jeans that were never taken to the thrift store.

The walls were bare and white, as plain as plain gets. But on the far wall across from the bed there was a single, small hole where a picture or painting might have once been mounted.

They didn’t think about the room. The door was left closed. Although occasionally one of them would open the door and peak in at the room in a vacuum, and allow themselves a brief moment of nostalgia. A quick escape from the present to admire the unchanging piece of their lives.

It’s funny how memory works.

Flash Fiction, Shorts

Words for the Wise

He was an old man, and singularly eccentric in the pride he held for his silky hair. On his twenty-fifth birthday he found his first silver hair on his otherwise coal-black mop. He pointed it out to everyone he saw that day, jutting his head out for them to examine. Observe, he said. Maturity. Physical proof he was aging.

On his thirty-second birthday he combed through his silver mane, which was then down to his shoulders, and plucked the last black hair from his head. He let it float down from his fingers to the trash bin and smiled.

Then he waited.

When nothing happened he frowned. What about all of those pictures of wise silver-haired men with long beards and tobacco pipes? Those thinkers and dreamers and doers. He was one of them now wasn’t he?

The silver-haired man kept waiting for wisdom to sprout up one day, just like his first silver hair had. The years passed. He kept getting older. He got a promotion at his job, and his girlfriend became his wife. He forgot about his dreams of being a dreamer when life picked up for him.

The old man worked and lived and laughed and cried, until, on his sixty-eighth birthday he noticed that his hair, which had been thinning during the past several years, was now mostly gone. He had been clinging to it for too long now, resorting to a lazy, long comb over. He had noticed his wife eyeing it from time to time, but she never spoke up.

Wisdom is not an object to acquire, he thought. Neither is it a trait that can be developed overnight.

With a sad smile the old man got out his electric razor and flipped it on. The buzzing sound of the vibrating clippers filled his ears as he passed it over his head, and lock after lock of silver hair wafted to the floor.