Tag Archives: flash

District 21 Part Two

Cyberpunk by vladimirpetkovic on DeviantArt

Read all of the episodes of Kain’s story here.

Kain continued to track the woman through the streets of the district. Whoever she was, fear didn’t appear to be on her screens. No one approached her, not strange in itself, since most beings tended to keep to themselves. Still, there were other dangers on the street. Everything from king rats to the five-oh could take you down.

Finally, they arrived at a hotel Kain was familiar with. Ze had never stayed there zirself, but ze had done business there more than once. The red script on the sign was neo-kanji and proclaimed the building was dry and possessed clean sleep cells. Both of those claims were likely false, but anything to get out of the persistent drizzle.

When ze stepped into the lobby, ze wasn’t surprised to be met by a weapon. That it was a vibro-stiletto in the thin fingered hand of his prey, rather than a slug thrower or a shocker, was the surprising bit.

Her black hair, undaunted by the moisture, stuck out in all manner of directions. In the buzzing yellow light of the hotel’s lobby, her eyes were no less haunting and blue. Her lips were just as full and crimson. She wasn’t zir type, but Kain would be hard pressed not to call her a beauty under most being’s standards. “Why are you following me?” Her voice was a dusky contralto. It wasn’t electronically modulated and was probably her natural voicebox.

Did she not have any implants? Fascinating. “To kill you. Eventually.” Kain was many things, but ze was no liar.

“What’s to stop me from killing you?” Her gaze roamed over the bits of flesh visible on Kain’s face, seemingly unperturbed by the amount of exposed circuitry and scar tissue. Not to mention the metal plate bolted over the area where a mouth and jaw should be.

Ze spoke again, voice emanating from the vox-box at zir throat. “Nothing. Curiosity?” Ze shrugged. “Maybe we could both not chill the other, for a few seconds?”

The tip of the stiletto dipped, and it ceased its low hum. “Maybe. Tell me who hired you.”

Kain chuckled, the sound like an ancient gearbox failing. “Professional courtesy keeps me from that. I can tell you they don’t like you very much. Me? I’m beginning to appreciate you. I can also tell you, they want you dead for a nice chunk of cred and no one else in the Districts wanted to do it.”

The woman smiled. “I can imagine. That means you’re stupid and greedy.”

Kain shrugged, zir own slicker a misshapen set of lumps. “Also ugly. Call it how you see it. But I’ll chill you if I want to. You would have already been dead a bit ago, if I’d pulled the trigger.”

“Your mass driver would have misfired. I spotted you early on.” She slipped the blade under her left sleeve. Her head cocked to one side, she smiled. Her teeth were bright and even. “Maybe we’re both just that good. I’ve heard things about someone like you who calls themselves Kain.”

“Only one of me. They didn’t give me a name for you. What can I call you?” Ze glaced around the lobby, surprised the Otto who manned it wasn’t chattering at them. Then he saw the poor glitcher’s robotic head was separated from its body.

“Lilith will do.”


Friday Flash – “Riding with the Kings”

He stood at the crossroads, surrounded by the land he’d been born in. The suit he wore was cheap and threadbare, but it was comfortable, even in the moist heat. He leaned against the guitar case and held his thumb out. In the distance he could see something kicking up a plume of dust. With any luck it would be his ride.

The long, low Cadillac pulled to a stop, the the white paint job and chrome making it hard to look at in the delta sun. Its cloth top was down, revealing the two people sitting on its red leather upholstery. The driver had jet black hair and swarthy skin. He was handsome in a workmanlike way. He wore blue jeans and a linen shirt. His prominent nose gave him quite the dramatic profile. The passenger was a white boy with blond hair, styled in a pompadour. His full mouthed pout made him look a little sad, but his eyes smiled brightly. He had on a bright red Hawaiian shirt, and there were several gold chains around his neck each ending in a different symbol.

The white boy stepped out and held the door open. “We’ve been waitin’ for you. Hop on in and we’ll take you where you’re goin’.” The boy took the battered guitar case and placed it with reverence in the back of the Caddy.

The driver looked up from his place at the wheel. “Don’t just stand there. We’ve got a gig to get to.” He held out a thickly callused hand. “Pleasure to finally see you in person.”

The hitchhiker shook the driver’s hand as he slid into place. “Pleasure to meet you to. I wasn’t sure who’d be picking me up. I made this deal…”

The kid jumped into the back and whooped. “Deals like that aren’t worth the vellum they’re written on.”

The driver put the car in gear and the three men started singing along to the old gospel song playing on the radio.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

They drove into the setting sun, the sound of the moaning wind playing a counterpoint to their chorus.

Poverty Vs. Common Sense – #VSS

320px-Money_Cash Melanie shut the web browser in disgust. The Tumblr post that had been left up showed some guy’s junk covered in leeches. It looked fake to her. Good, but fake. Her brother had been doing horror make up since they were both in second grade. He worked at Weta now and she was stuck studying at state college in Pennsyltucky. She couldn’t be too bitter, though. Life could be a lot worse she guessed.

“Hey Mel, you want to grab some pizza?” The high pitched voice was not so high it wasn’t recognizably male.

She turned and saw it was Elard. The tall gangly sophomore wore a pink tutu and a cropped top. “Nice outfit. Aren’t you afraid of getting cold?”

He smiled. “I’ve got enough fur that it’s not too bad. So, ‘za or no?”

“I’ll pass this time. I’ve got some cramming to do.”

“Buzzkill.” He waved fingers at her. “JK. Talk to you later.” He flounced off to meet with the rest of the group.

For a moment she thought about giving in. Her stomach rumbled, but her bank account had an echo. She turned back around to the computer and was surprised to see a box had popped up on her screen.

"Hello, Ms. Rossi. Can I interest you in a money making scheme?"

She snorted. “Must be a virus. Stupid men and their stupid porn.”

"I assure you that I am not a virus, Ms. Rossi."

Her jaw fell open. “You can hear me?”

"And see you. That's a lovely sweater, though it looks a bit out of style."

She picked at the bulky beige sweater her grandmother had made. “Thanks. I… What the fuck?”

“Sssssh.” The librarian at the desk must have heard her.

The machine’s webcam had a green light beside it. Whoever this was really could see her. “So, how can I make some money? I won’t strip and I won’t do anything illegal.” She didn’t think she had the body for stripping, but still it always struck her as skeevy.

"Nothing illegal is required."

The browser opened and Google Maps fired up.

"Merely go to this address and someone will be waiting for you. They will have a package for you to deliver."

Common sense warred with poverty. “How much?”

"Five hundred dollars."

She hit the print button on the browser. The library printer whirred to life.


Let me know in the comments.

Bond of Love (VSS)

This story was inspired by a photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click here to see them.

IMG_1917Jurgen and Hans knew that they would receive a lot of scorn for their decision. They had been lovers for a dozen years and from the moment they first met they knew they would be inseparable. It was only a matter of time before they made that more than figurative. Finding a doctor was the hardest part. When they met Dr. Milton thanks to a referral from a friend they were hopeful. They sat in his office wearing the sweater Hans had knitted especially for their post operative life.

“So, how has your test period gone so far?”

Hans answered. “We have gotten more than a few strange looks and no small amount of negative comments.”

Jurgen picked up where he left off. “But that was to be expected. The first transexuals had to go through unimaginable pain and scorn. It will be no different for us.”

Milton nodded. “That is why I wanted you to live as near as you could to your eventual conjoined state. Are you quarters ready?”

“We have worked out all of the bugs well before we met you, doctor.”

“We are ready.”

“Good.” Milton checked his notes. “I have you scheduled for surgery the first of the month. I want you to continue wearing the band that holds you together until then.”

“I can’t help but wonder why you’re so willing to help us.” Jurgen touched Hans’ chest. “We’ve talked about it and I just have to ask. Won’t this cost you your medical license?”

Milton stood, folded his hands behind his back, and walked to the full length window. Stars twinkled in the blackness. Only an inch separated him from the vacuum of space. “There is certainly potential for that to happen. It is a risk I am willing to take. When I took a cyborg as my wife, people looked down on us. They questioned my humanity. There were death threats. We faced it all together. I don’t expect people to understand my choices or agree with them, but if all parties are well adjusted and mature individuals who are we to judge?” He turned from the window and faced the couple. “I want to thank you for trusting me to do this. Recovery will be painful and there will be hurdles that you can’t imagine. I believe that based on your psych profiles and the counseling you’ve gone through that you can come through it all okay. Otherwise I wouldn’t have agreed to this.”

The men stood. “Thank you for your faith in us.” The took his outstretched hand in each of theirs and shook. “We will see you in a few weeks.”

A Prickly Fellow

This story was inspired by a photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click here to see them.

IMG_1895 Chip had always been unusual. Even as a boy he’d been drawn to things that others found difficult to understand. The perfect example was the picture his mom kept of him embracing and sniffing a cactus. He didn’t remember if it was the smell or the way that the pressure of the spines against his skins. It wasn’t about pain. He’d never really pricked himself. Still, it was just odd. Or so people told him.

All of his life he’d had a hard time finding, making, and keeping friends. He wanted companionship and even people who could accept him for who he was often didn’t appeal to him at all. Eventually he decided that the best thing to do would be to make a copy of himself. He didn’t have any expertise in biology so cloning was right out. Technology wasn’t advanced enough to make an AI version of himself, so even that was out.

Ultimately, he decided that the only way to make it happen would be time travel or magic.

If there was anything that time travel movies told him, it was that meeting yourself led most often to disaster. That left finding a spell that would do the trick. This was where his oddness came in handy. He didn’t have an opinion one way or another when it came to magic’s existence. People that had strong feelings about its existence were often as strange as he was. He was able to find and make friends with them as a result. After enough networking with the oddments and outcasts, he found himself standing in the basement of an apartment in Turkey. Candles lit the room and a woman in little more than a bathrobe, her skin covered in arcane glyphs, chanted wall passing her hands over an ancient text.

This had been going on for an hour, when he started to feel an uncomfortable tingling in his chest. He would have been concerned, but Morgana, the bathrobe woman, had told him to expect this.

“The process,” she said in her unique and potentially faked accent, “is not easy or comfortable. You might pass out from the pain or from boredom. Don’t.”

He hadn’t been bored. She was attractive to look at and the more she passed her hands over the book, the more her robe opened. He was so glued to watching her at work that he failed to notice the air shimmering in front of him.

“What do you want?” His own voice asked him from beyond the veil rent in space and time.

His head turned and looked at himself. He appeared to be in good health and was of the same apparent age. “I don’t know how things are on your end, but in the process of looking for a friend I’ve never quite figured it out.”

He cocked his head at himself. “So you decided to try and find yourself?”

He shrugged. “I would hardly be the first one.”

“Is your intention to play with yourself, or just get to know yourself better?”

“More of the latter. Maybe if I truly knew myself I’d have less problem knowing others.”

“I can only hold this portal open for a few more minutes. Either you two will need to talk faster or one of you should join the other.” Morgana interrupted her casting for the recommendation.

Chip looked from her to his double. “What do you say?”

“I’m fine with staying on this side of things. I’ve got a lot of friends and my social calendar is full. You could come here I suppose.”

He considered his tone of voice and didn’t think he was being genuine with himself. “No, I think staying apart for now is the best course of action.” As much as he wanted to spend some time with himself, he didn’t want to run the risk of being stuck in a strange place.

He nodded. “Fair enough. Is… Is there anything you can recommend once I go home?”

He stroked his chin.  “No matter how easy or hard a thing might be, there’s always an opportunity to make things better for the next person. You should do more of that and less worrying about how you look to others. That’s always been what’s held us back, more so than the other things.”

The connection between the two halves disconnected.

“Your other self is a pretty smart cookie.” Morgana noted from her book.

“Let’s start here and now.” He extended a hand to her. “I’ll make you some pancakes and then we’ll see how I can make the world a better place.”

Love Stinks (#VSS)

Love stinks. Yeah yeah.

The lyrics to the song played over and over in my head. I’d tried passing a note to Suzanne in third period. Naturally the note was intercepted by JD. He and I had been rivals for nearly everything since we’d been in Kindergarten. Now that he knew I had feelings for Suzanne he’d probably try and put his hat in the ring. I slumped against the tree just outside the lunch room and cradled my head in my hands.


It took me a second to register that I was the dude in question. I looked up and JD stood there with a dumb look on his face. “What?”

He held the note up between two fingers. “This.”

“Give it.”

He shook his head. The desire to jump straight out and catch him at the knees was strong. “You don’t want to put this in her hands. She’ll post it in the girls’ bathroom and you’ll be the laughing stock of the school.”

I had heard that most of the girls declared him persona non grata. I didn’t want to believe that she who held my heart could be so cruel. “I’m s’posed to believe this why?”

He sailed the note to me. “Believe me, this is one I had to learn the hard way. I passed her a note a few weeks ago. It happened to me. Granted my poetry was a little less Hallmark and a little more ee cummings.”

The note fluttered to a stop near my Vans. “Now you’re in the business of doing me favors?”

He waved his hands. “Not at all. This isn’t a favor, though. This is how people are supposed to be.”

I chewed that one over for a second. We were both sixteen. Had he grown up before me? I stuck out my hand.

He grabbed it and pulled me up. “Course, you could be different. She could be ‘hot for you’ too.”

I scowled at the now obviously horrible line he brought up. I’d have to give this some more thought. “Look, we’ve known each other for eleven years?”

“Since Mrs. Thunderbottom’s class.” We shared a smile.

“Why is it that we don’t get along?” I looked at the way he was dressed and thought about his last book report. We had a lot more in common than a lust for Suzanne.

He shrugged. “Wait, you aren’t hot for me, too?”

I smacked his arm. “No, I just need someone to hang with.”

“Come on. We’ll go drink away our troubles.”

“Coke’s on me.” We walked into the building, the first of a thousand drinks we’d share after being scorned, losing a bet, or just a hard day at work.

Beans – Flash Fiction by Dave Avila

This is Dave Avila’s  entry in my 300×300+300 challenge. I hope you enjoy it!
When you look at the beans in the large glass jar and the beans look back; you know it’s going to be one of those days. I try not to notice. It’s best not to notice. It will only start an argument, “I don’t know why I keep you,” I muttered to myself.
“Because we’re brothers, Allen,” he answered.
“I don’t believe you are. You just look like him. Daniel is dead! 12 years ago.”
“I couldn’t leave you. I love you. You’re my brother. Go ahead ask me anything.”
“We’ve done this a thousand times, Daniel. You know a lot about us but. . .you’re a face in a jar of beans. Clearly not my brother. He hated beans. Maybe even jars, I don’t know what you are but you need to leave and never bother me again. Or so help me I will drop you this time.”
“You did do that on purpose. I knew it!”
Daniel’s likeness dissolves into the beans and disappears.
A knock at the door pulls Daniel into reality. He smiles because he has a feeling he knows who it is.
“Beth! You’re early, good , I’m ready,” Allen grabs his phone and keys and motions to the door.
Beth, Allen’s girlfriend, steps inside,” We have time, babe. Let’s sit and talk until it’s time for the movie. I was thinking of Mexican dinner tonight,” Beth walks into the kitchen.
“Great! Where at? Tacos Ensenada?”
“No, I was thinking of making dinner here,” Beth grabs the large jar of beans. Daniel’s worried face appears to her from within the jar. She sees the specter and screams. Dropping the jar. Beans and glass scatter on impact with the floor.
The funeral in the back yard was nice.

Toaster Toast

This story was inspired by a photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click here to see them.

IMG_1885 Helen had been a spokes-model for nearly five years now. She felt certain that anything she held would benefit by her just being in the same shot with it. She never dreamed that she’d face a challenge as great as she did that fateful October day.

“It’s a piece of bread!” She felt her fingernails digging into her palms, but the sensation was distant.

Sully shook his head. “It’s Toaster Toast. The new client feels like it will blow the roof off of the breakfast food market.” He pointed to the white square. “Look, you can do this. I have faith in you.”

“I was patient when you had me sell Instant Water. I gritted my teeth when you put me on the Raisin Magic kit. They were just selling old grapes for crying out loud. I put my reputation on the line when you give me this kind of crap.” She unscrewed the lid from her Smart Water and took a long swallow. She instantly felt smarter.

“If we didn’t trust you then we wouldn’t do this.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “This may seem silly to you and me, but we need to think of the big picture. If you’d come to my grandfather fifty years ago, when he started this company, and told him that there would be a market for powdered juice aimed at kids or that they’d put squares of chocolate in breakfast cereal he would have laughed you out of the room. Our job isn’t to judge our clients or their consumers. It’s to take their ideas and make sure that they sell, sell, sell.”

She looked down at the floor for a heartbeat and then back up. The million watt smile was back on her face. “Okay, I can do this.” Moments later she was in front of the camera, and once again when people saw her face and how much she obviously loved the product, they bought it in droves.

Sweet Music (Flash Fiction and Challenge)

I wrote this a while back for a friend’s podcast. I’m not sure that it ever got used (and if not it may yet be), but I figured I’d share it here. The challenges was to use a picture that looked good at 300px by 300px and write a 300 word story (EXACTLY!). After reading my story, your challenge is to do that. Write your story and link to it in the comments. It can be any topic or genre, just keep it relatively clean/work safe. I’ll run the three best here (if I get three or less I’ll run all three). Those three will get their pick of story from my Amazon store. Make sure that the picture is one that you have permission to use. The deadline is the twelfth of September, 2014 CE.

adelaide I first met Ms. Adelaide Hughes when I was playin’ piano in that smokey hall in Harlem. She was a vision in sparkles and feathers and had the voice of an angel. Playin’ piano for her was something like makin’ love, the risin’ and fallin’ of our voices together. My fingers bringin’ out those high pitched wails and moans from between her lips. I wasn’t always in control though. Sometimes she led me. It was a beautiful partnership.

Well, I got it in my damn fool head to go see her and maybe get a kiss and an autograph. I weren’t nothin’ but a kid from Alabama. There were better ivory ticklers in the city, and that ain’t no lie. I was just lucky to be where I was. I pushed that luck, though. I knocked on the door of her dressin’ room, knowin’ she was in there alone.

“Come in.”

I went in, keepin’ my head down. “Evenin’ miss, Hughes.”

“Bobby, so good to see you.”

I blushed. Didn’t know she knew my name. I stupidly held out a picture. “Can you sign this, Ms. Hughes?” I held it out, tremblin’.

She smelled like sweat, perfume, and cigarettes. She’d moved to me without a whisper and brought my head up. “I can do more than that.” She brought her mouth to mine; her lips the softest things I’d ever felt. Our tongues played with one another in an old dance. She led it and my body surrendered.

It broke all too soon.

She took the picture and kissed it softly, markin’ it with her lipstick. She signed it with a pen, too. “Bobby Anne, we make beautiful music together. Adelaide.”

I’d like to say we shared more than that kiss, but that would be tellin’ tales out of school.

The Element of Surprise

This story was inspired by a photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click here to see them.

enhanced-22319-1400017156-7 Pa had been married to Ma for the last forty-two years and every year was better than the last. She treated him like a king and every year for their anniversary the gifts that she got him were hard to top. It wasn’t that they were lavish or expensive, but they were just perfect. He’d never been able to quite top them. It wasn’t a contest and every year she’d just tell him it was the thought that counted. Still, he wanted to get her something this year that she’d remember. He thought he had just the thing.

They finished their dinner and were sipping irish coffee. “Ready to open presents, Ma?”

She smiled at him. “Sure thing, Pa. I think you’re gonna love what I have for you this year.”

“I always do.”

They moved to the living room where the two packages awaited them. “You open yours first, Pa.”

He smiled and nodded. He’d tried the “ladies first” dodge nearly every year for the first twenty, but that was another battle she always won. He took the long rectangular package from her. There was a good heft to it. The paper was expensive, a dark blue and very shiny. He untaped one end. He’d never been one to simply tear into a present. Once the paper was taken away he held a heavy wooden box. Cardboard wasn’t good enough for Ma. The boxes her presents came in were almost always as good. The cedar smelled fantastic. He lay the box down on the floor and found the catch that held it closed. He flipped the lid open and gasped when he saw what was inside.

“Ma, this is too much.” The shotgun had been broken down into two pieces. The barrel and stock were nestled in velvet the color of the wrapping paper. The metal gleamed. He’d been given the shotgun by his own dad. It was dinged and beat up and he’d often said that he wanted to get it restored. The value was sentimental not just because of who he’d gotten it from. He’d also used it on one of their first sprees.

He took the pieces out and fitted them together. He felt a stinging at his eyes. They fit perfectly. He cracked open the breech and checked all of the moving parts. “Darlin’, I can’t thank you enough for this. I can’t wait to use it.” The person in the basement would probably be as thankful for it as Pa was. He broke it back down and set the parts on the desk.

“My turn, my turn.” Ma clapped her hands.

“Careful opening it. You may want to leave it on the floor there.” Ma’s back was always a bit tricksy.

She knelt down in front of the box and began peeling away the paper. Her brow knitted at the cage it held. “A rabbit? You got me a rabbit?”

Pa chuckled. Sure enough a huge brown hare sat huddled in one corner of the crate. The poor thing was scared, just as scared as many of their victims had been. “No, no. Think of it like the keys to a new car. What I really got you is what’s down stairs. It would have been too hard to wrap.

“Well, I’ll be…”

He could see the tears in her own eyes. She’d only mentioned it once, but he’d been paying attention. “I hope you like it.”

“My very own boa constrictor? How could I not?” She grabbed the barrel of the gun and swiped playfully at him.

He could see by the look on her face that he’d finally done it. “I’ve been working on its habitat for a month. It’ll have its own space down by the kill room.”

“You sweet man. I can’t wait to see the look on our next project’s face.” She motioned for him to stand up. “Thank you so much.”

He did and they embraced. “You’re welcome, my dear.” Years of marriage and scores of victims and he’d proven that he could still surprise the old girl. Evading the police wasn’t enough to keep the spark alive. The element of surprise was even more important to wedded bliss than it was to being a serial killer.