Tag Archives: flash

Merry Widow(er)

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

enhanced-6131-1400068422-1Here at Fisher Brothers Funeral Services we know how sad it can be when you die and no one shows up. Granted it’s not sad for the dearly departed, but a person’s legacy has a lot to do with how they’re perceived after they die. That prompted us to start the Rent-A-Mourner last year and that has gone incredibly well both for us and for our clients. Sure, we got some pushback, but hiring mourners is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. All one has to do is look at the services following the passing of author Bill Jones* to see how that tradition pays off in modern times. His sales in life were mediocre, but after his widow hired a crowd from Fisher Brothers and the press covered the event, his back catalog sales went through the roof.

Desiring to stay on the cutting edge of the industry we’ve recently started a new program, The Merry Widow(er). These days people are doing almost anything to re-capture their youth. Sales of the little blue pill are unbelievable. Prescriptions and over the counter sales of testosterone are going gangbusters. People spend tens of thousands on powders, potions, and plastic surgery. What says power and vitality like having a gorgeous ex-lover show up to throw themselves on your casket? Granted, you as the deceased won’t be able to take advantage of the more temporal benefits, but as with Rent A Morner you have to think about how you will look to those who follow in your footsteps. If you divorced your spouse there’s also the joy you get when you think about the look on their face when they meet your younger, more attractive loved one.

As with all of our programs, Fisher Brothers promises complete secrecy. All mourners and widow(er)s will be provided with enough knowledge about the dearly departed to fool family members and lifelong friends. Where needed they will also have plausible stories as to where they’ve been for the last year to eighteen months. We also guarantee that our Mourners and Merry Widow(er)s are cheaper than having spent your predeceased days striving to have actual people you know like you enough to come to your funeral.

So when you think about your final goodbye, think outside the casket. Remember that here at Fisher Brothers we know that your reputation will outlive your embalmed remains if you spend your money wisely.

*Actual author’s name changed due to contractual obligations.

Sticky Business

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

enhanced-2407-1399922427-9 Jeff groaned as yet another termination request flashed up on his computer. He hated being the one responsible for closing down accounts and these days it was even worse given the state of the economy. When he saw the name and date it was even worse. It was his friend Robert Newman and the term date was effective tomorrow. That was Robert’s birthday. He struggled all say with whether or not to tell his friend. Stickeez-R-Us had a very strict policy about such things. It could cost him his own job, but he and Robert had been friends a long time. Maybe it would be better coming from him rather than an impersonal walk to his boss’s office.

From: JHeight@stickeezrus.com
RE: Beer Tonight?

Rob. Thought you might like to grab a beer after work at The Town Pump. Let me know.

From: RNewman@stickeezrus.com
RE: Beer Tonight?

Absotively. See you there.

Jeff smiled. The scientist had always been ready for a good time. He had a great attitude and his penchant for practical jokes was well known throughout the company. Hopefully that would carry him through the next day.

He walked through the door of the local watering hole and saw Rob sitting there. The man was still wearing his bright yellow Stickeez lab coat. The sleeves were rolled up showing the wide, thick band of leather that held his steampunk watch. Reddish gray hair stick out in every direction. He had a mug of beer in front of him already two thirds gone.

“Hey man!” Jeff hoped that his tone was chipper.

Rob turned on his stool and smiled. Big blue eyes made bigger by their thick glasses. “Hey dude! Thanks for inviting me. I’ve been working hard the last couple of weeks and haven’t had much down time.”

Jeff looked around and spotted a booth off to the back. He looked at his friend. “I figured you could use an early birthday present and I’ve got something I want to bend your ear about. Mind if we sit back there?” He pointed at the booth.

Rob shook his head. “Not at all.” He gestured to the bartender and pointed to his beer. “I’ll take another one of these for my friend.” He looked back at Jeff. “Go have a seat. I’ll bring your beer.”

Jeff walked back to the booth, trying to keep his head from hanging. This was the right thing to do. He took a seat and Rob wasn’t far behind him. He took the frosty mug and downed a third of it in long swallows.

“Thirsty?” Rob smiled.

“Hard day at work. Look, I don’t want to put this off any longer than I have to. I saw an email today and I know I’m not supposed to say anything, but you’re going to get your pink slip tomorrow.” The words came out in a rush and he looked up when he was finished.

Rob’s face hadn’t changed. He still had a smile on it.

“Didn’t you hear me? You’re gonna lose your job.”

Rob nodded. “I know. I mean I didn’t know it was coming tomorrow, but I knew it was coming. Hey, working R&D for a company that makes variations on sticky notes isn’t exactly a guaranteed gig. I’ve had a good run. Thank for thinking of me.”

Jeff looked from his friend to his beer and back again. “You still look… Happy? You’ve got something percolating in the back of your mind.”

Rob shrugged. “The company has had me working on a few things that were ultra hush hush. I’ve been stressing out about it and decided that I’d tinker with something on my own. I had a breakthrough and let’s just say that the second I don’t log on to my PC at my usual time that little breakthrough will hit the production line ahead of schedule.”

That made Jeff a little uneasy. “Revenge isn’t a good idea.”

“I wouldn’t call it revenge.” Rob sipped at his beer. “It’s an idea that they’ll love eventually. They just won’t much like how it comes out. Don’t worry, when’s the last time you saw me do anything malicious? I’m not out to hurt anyone, least of all the company that’s been so good to so many people lately.” There was a less than gentle sarcasm in his tone.

Jeff thought about that. If this “surprise” wouldn’t hurt anyone except the company then who was he to tattle. If it did go badly they’d know to pin it on Rob and what did Jeff know, really? Rob could be playing one of his jokes on his friend. “Well I’m glad you’re taking it so well.”

“No guarantees in life, friend.”
He raised his glass and they clinked them together. “When you get your own pink slip, look me up. By then I may have some things you can help me with. I’ll need a computer geek one of these days.”


Jeff enjoyed the rest of their evening and didn’t think too much more about it. Breaking the news had gone better than he could have hoped and he didn’t see how anyone could get hurt.”

Days went past and in the drudgery of work and excitement of family life he had actually forgotten about the whole thing. His family was sitting around the table two weeks later when he heard the name of his company from the television in the other room. He excused himself and went to see what it was all about.

“-recall on all of their products manufactured in the previous week.” The camera pulled back from the pretty anchor and showed a young woman with a beatific smile on her face, what he could see of her face under a layer of sticky notes. “It seems a manufacturing error has led to some unintended effects. Stickeez-R-Us has said that their adhesive, when applied directly to the skin, can cause minor changes in mood. The effect is mostly positive and even the young woman pictured showed no ill effects.”

Jeff chuckled and reminded himself to send Rob a reminder about that job offer.

Fishy Handshake

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

enhanced-buzz-6914-1399908192-5 Sal’s palms were sweating profusely. He hadn’t felt well since he got up this morning. He hoped it was just a bad case of nerves. If this kept up he’d probably sweat right through his suit. He couldn’t blow this interview. He’d been out of work for about six months now and while he got unemployment insurance that was barely enough to put gas in the car and food on the table, much less paying for medical bills or rent. Steph had a job, but minimum wage hasn’t changed in way too long and the S-Mart wasn’t giving her full time hours or a raise.

He laced his fingers together and squeezed until his knuckles were about to pop. The pain didn’t do anything to alleviate his nervousness, but it gave him something to think about other than the knot in his stomach or the damn Mutie Panic that flooded the airwaves. You couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing about some new freak. God knows what caused the changes. GMOs, nuclear waste, corn syrup. Whatever it was, the muties were nothing like the comic books. The changes were all just painful or embarrassing.

The two pieces of advice that Giorgio gave him were “wear your best suit” and “don’t give a limp wristed, damp handshake”. He had the suit. He’d bought it before he lost the job at Chem-Tex. He’d been making good money and splurged. Now he just needed to make sure to make a good first impression. He rubbed his palms on the dark gray slacks. Satisfied they were dry, he looked around the office.

Manson and Reed was nothing to write home about, at least the office. The low end law firm was one step above ambulance chasing and the fake plants and out of date office furniture showed it. Work was work though and they needed a sysadmin. He had the experience and would take whatever salary they would throw at him.

“Mr. Petrelli?” The pleasant tenor voice snapped him out of his funk.

He looked up to see a man that didn’t like much older than the kids that worked with his wife at S-Mart. There were fine lines around his eyes though. The suit he wore looked a notch or two above Sal’s. He stood, holding out his hand. No limp shake. No limp shake.

When Mr. Manson grabbed Sal’s hand, he made a disgusted noise. Then he looked from Sal’s eyes down to where they shook and screamed in a pitch much higher than his speaking voice.

Sal could feel the man gripping his hand, but it suddenly felt like he wore a cold glove. He wanted to look at his hand, but he was terrified about what he’d see there.

“You’re a damn mutie.” The man screamed in his nasally, high pitched voice. “You’re a damn mutie.” He sounded like a broken record.

Sal tore his eyes away from the terrified whites of Mr. Manson’s eyes. He saw that the lawyer still clutched what appeared to be a trout or maybe a bass. The fish, Sal was never an expert, protruded from his coat sleeve. He took his… appendage back. “I hope this doesn’t mean the interview is off?”

He found himself rushed out of the building by a burly and slightly apologetic black man. “This isn’t the best place to work, dude.”

Sal nodded at the security guard’s retreating back. “Yeah, maybe not. But it beats being on the state’s dime.” He looked down at the fish. It was still there. He tried to will it back into a human hand, but he hadn’t willed it into a fish, so he wasn’t sure what to do about it.

He supposed he could join the circus.

“Don’t be silly.” The raspy, thin came from the place where the tips of his fingers used to be. “We’re not showy enough for that to work.”

Sal fainted.

The Fantastic Accountant

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

enhanced-22521-1400016682-17 Artemis never thought life as an accountant would be exciting. Still, working for his dad for the summer would be easier than flipping burgers at the Shake Star.

Dad pulled the Cutlass to the curb and nodded. “You go on ahead. I’ll park and be in in a minute or two.” His smile was reflected in his one remaining eye, the other covered by a black patch.

Artemis nodded back to his dad and opened the door. The Texas heat slammed into him. He grabbed the key from his pocket as he closed the heavy car door and walked to the front door of the firm of Gordon and Shumway. Dad’s partner, Allen, had been dead for five years, but he kept the Shumway name on the door. Tradition was very important to him. He unlocked the door and walked into cool darkness. The security system beeped at him until he entered the four digit code.

The smell of damp and old paper filled his nose. In spite of the advances that the early twenty-first century provided, dad still had a love of paper. The walls of the ten by twenty foot office were filled with books from floor to ceiling. They weren’t all accounting books, though most of them were. He’d grown up in this office for the last sixteen years and a good portion of one wall was filled with science fiction, fantasy, and the biographies of his favorite sports stars and political figures. There were also a few ancient history books, ones focusing on the ancient Middle East.

He cut on the lights and moved from computer to computer, booting them up. The two ladies that were dad’s office assistants, and had been since time immemorial, would be here in about a half hour. Dad always turned on their computers for them, so he thought it was the least he could do. Finally he sat down at his. The MacBook was already on and he checked his email. While he was double checking the spam filter he heard the door open.

Dad had taken a little longer than usual. He held a box of Dan’s Donuts in one hand and a battered leather case in the other. It wasn’t his usual briefcase, so Artemis raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Dad was a creature of habit, to a fault. Seeing some new gear, or rather in this case new old gear was interesting. If it was something he needed to know, Dad would tell him.

Dad walked around the counter and put the donuts out for the ladies and his son. He went to the door to his own separate office and fished out a set of keys. He was the only one who had access to the ten by ten office beyond. He unlocked both sets of deadbolts and Artemis heard the chirping of the other alarm system. It’s chirping stopped and Dad called to him. “Come here Arty.”

Artemis was getting to the age where “Arty” was starting to chafe. Mom encouraged him to let it slide. Dad was a lot older than most of Artemis’ friends’ fathers. He was almost old enough to be Artemis’ granddad. His own dad was long dead. Still, hopefully the nickname would fade soon. He flipped the laptop closed and walked quickly to the office.

The lights flickered on and Artemis looked around. The shelves in here were filled too, though not with books. Calculating devices, everything from an ancient abacus to adding machines that were new when dad was a boy, and measuring devices, like sextants and surveyor’s tools, had their places. Dad had ensured that he knew how to use every single one.

“Sit down, son.” Dad scratched at his bare scalp. “We have something to talk about.”

This couldn’t be good. He ran his fingers through his own thick, black head of hair in a mirror image of the motion. The “tell” was a Gordon male’s way of expressing discomfort. “What’s up?”

“You’ve agreed to work with me and we’ve talked about how important this is to me.”

Artemis nodded. “You want to pass the torch.”

He smiled. “Exactly. I know that you think being an accountant is boring.” He held up a hand to stifle any reply. “There are days when it’s sheer drudgery. I won’t lie. I want to show you something today that will inspire you to believe that it can be your future, boring or not.”

Artemis fought to keep from rolling his eyes.

Dad’s eye narrowed. “I saw that.” His voice held some humor. He got up and retrieved the abacus. The counters were made from jade and the wood was almost as dark as Artemis’ hair. He sat is on the desk between them. “I know that you know how to use this, but there’s something I haven’t shown you.” He picked it up with his left hand and held it like one might a violin, nestled against his cheek. With his right hand he flipped a few of the counters, seemed to listen, flipped a few more, and then smiled. His right hand then flew through a series of gestures, almost like sign language.

A breeze began to blow through the room and Artemis could smell flowers. He looked around the windowless office. The sound of birds filled the air. The wall to his left, what would have been the rear of the building started to fade and he could see light filtering through as though coming through a thick curtain. He stood, pushing back the chair. “Dad. What’s going on?” He looked over at his dad.

He’d stood and was now holding the heavy leather case. “Well, son, I’m an accountant in more than just this world. Decades ago, Shumway and I found that abacus and discovered that it could open a doorway to another universe. We explored it and discovered that the king of the country on the other side of that wall was being bilked by his advisors. We showed him the advantages of spread sheets and modern accounting practices. He showed us magic and adventure.”

Artemis blinked, hardly believing it. “So you didn’t lose the eye in a college fencing match?”

Dad ran a finger across his patch and shook his head. “Dragon.” He smiled. “It’s time for this year’s audit and I thought I would take you with me. You game?”

Artemis still didn’t know what to make of the jungle he could now just make out through the office’s back wall. He thought of all of the books on the shelves out there. He wanted to live the adventure he’d read about. “Yes, sir!”

“Well come on, Artemis.” He pronounced his son’s name with the timbre one would use with an adult. “Let’s go see if I can show you that there are a few things about this life that you might enjoy.” He handed his son the abacus and together they walked into the green light of the far off jungle.

Worst Santa

This story was inspired by a photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click here to see them. (I decided to leave this photo off to save your eyes.)

Being a successful thief didn’t get off to an easy start. My first ten or twelve jobs very nearly all ended in disaster. Thankfully none of them landed me in prison, though I have done my fair share of time. The one that sticks out most to me is the third one. It taught me never to break into a place without thoroughly checking it out first.

It was late December. I’d had been living rough for a couple of weeks. Christmas in eastern North Carolina can be a wet and miserable affair, but it’s not as cold as it is up north. I’d managed to break into a beach cottage on my first night in town and while it didn’t have power or water it at least gave me a break from the wind. I had my eye on a big house a bit further up the beach. They would have some electronics and maybe some other valuables I could steal and pawn.

I parked a few blocks away from the house in the battered Volvo wagon I called home in those days. I didn’t know much back then but I knew enough not to park my getaway vehicle in an otherwise empty driveway when I was in the course of my business. I pulled the collar of my navy windbreaker up and my toboggan down. The wind was howling that night.

I broke into a run and soon I stood in front of the big house. It was up on stilts and the side facing the street had a dozen windows. They were all boarded up and I didn’t see a single light. Some of these places got rented out, even during the off months, but I’d kept an eye on this one and there had been no activity. I went around to the side and found that the gate was locked. I grabbed the pickets and vaulted over lightly. I wasn’t that smart, but I was strong and light on my feet. I landed on the concrete pad and saw that this place had a huge pool and a hot tub. They were both covered for the winter.

The windows on the ocean side were also covered, the exception being the four sets of sliding glass doors. No light came from any of them. I went up the back steps, any creaking noises covered by the incessant howl of the wind. I walked up to the first set of doors and pulled out my picks. These locks were always pretty cheesy. The only thing that could really put a damper on picking them would be a wooden bar laid on the door’s track. There was no bar. I set to work and discovered that the door was unlocked.

You’d have thought that this would be my first indication to get lost. Like I said, back then I wasn’t too bright. I figured that maybe some lazy maintenance crew had left the door unlocked. I slid the door open and eased my way in. The air was warm. I smelled cinnamon and apples. Dumb as I was, even I figured that meant someone was home. There were no cars out front though. My greed got the better of me and I guessed that it had been rented, but whoever it was had gone out for dinner. Occupation meant that there would be some portable goodies.

I moved towards the front of the house, keeping my ears open for any noise. My eyes were fully adjusted to the darkness, so making out a light coming from under a door near the front of the house was easy enough. I skulked up to the door and put my ear against it. I couldn’t hear any noise coming from the other side, though I blame the howling wind, audible even inside the house for what happened next.

I turned the handle and pushed the door in. The naked, overweight man sat on the edge of the bed. A Santa hat sat perched on the top of his head and he was tweaking his nipples. Meanwhile the lady between his knees worked south of the border pretty vigorously. Neither of them noticed my presence. I backed out of there faster than a cat who’d had its tail stepped on. The door sat open a bit, but given the noises I could now plainly hear I didn’t think anyone would notice until I was gone.

It only took a few minutes for me to get back to my Volvo and beat it down the road. It took me a number of weeks to erase that mental picture from my brain. What I never erased was the lesson I learned about doing the pre-work.

Candy Man

enhanced-21277-1400016574-8 This story was inspired by this photo taken from a collection of stock photos. Click the picture to see the rest.

“Stanislaw! Stanislaw Kaczmarczyk, you get your scrawny butt back in here.”

Stan’s mother’s voice cut through the neighborhood like a rusty buzz-saw through sheet metal. It never failed to get his attention.

He ran at top speed, having no desire to earn her anger. When he rounded the corner he saw the old man standing there. Dressed in a dirty wife beater, a ball cap turned the wrong way ’round, and holding both a cigar and a massive lolly pop, creepy didn’t even begin to cover it. There was a mischief behind the thick lensed glasses that Stanley could feel even ten yards away. He wanted to veer off course, but the street on one side (DON’T PLAY IN THE STREET STANISLAW LEOPOLD KACZMARCZYK!) and menacing shrubs belonging to Mr. Allman on the other meant that he was like a prize calf in a chute.

He came to a stop at least six feet from the old man. There wasn’t room to pass him without coming within arm’s reach. His muscles couldn’t even twitch.

“S’matter boy? Scared?” The old man’s voice wasn’t at all what he expected. It was deep and gravely, but there was a kindness in it. “Ain’t nothin’ ta be scared of.”

“Ma says not ta take candy from strangers.” His words came out in a whisper. “Please mister, let me by.”

The old man smiled. This time there was a little bit of menace. “Do ya always listen to yer Ma, boy?”

The question stopped his mental processes. Of course he didn’t, but when there were times like these (WERE THERE EVER TIMES THAT WERE EXACTLY LIKE SHE DESCRIBED? NONE OF HIS FRIENDS HAD EVER JUMPED OFF A BRIDGE!) he needed to make sure that he did the right thing.

“I ain’t takin’ yer candy mister.”

The old man scowled. “I ain’t even offered any to ya. Ya ingrateful pup.” He pointed the lolly pop at Stan. “This is my candy. The likes of you ain’t worth it.”

Now Stan was a little offended. How was he not worth it? “Sorry mister. Hey can I get by now?”

“Not before ya make a choice. Ya can either take a bite of tha candy, and I’ll let ya get on home, or ya can cross tha street and go ’round. Either way ya show how brave ya are.”

Stanley looked out into the busy street. If he crossed over, moved down, and crossed back his mother would surely know. If he just took a bite of the candy then there’s be nothing saying to his mother that he’d done anything wrong. But if the candy had poison or razor blades or if the man grabbed him then he’d be done for. He felt the tears start to slide down his cheeks. “Please mister. I don’t want no trouble. Just let me by.”

“Make yer choice, boy.” The old man growled.

Stanley looked at the lolly pop and out into the street. Then he looked right. No one had ever told him not to go into the bushes. He dove through the hedge, scraping his bare legs and feeling them yank on his hair. He ran the eight steps that he felt sure would take him past the old man, took two more for good measure, and then dove back through the bushes. He earned a poke to the eye from one branch, but inside of a breath he was back on the sidewalk.

A glance to his left revealed that no one was there. He panicked and looked right, but the street was empty in that direction too. Confused, he broke into a run, hearing his mother’s second call. He got to his front steps, out of breath, flesh stinging from the bushes, but feeling triumphant.

“Stan, what in the Good Lord’s Name have you been up ta?” His mother had her hands on her hips. She didn’t look angry so much as concerned. Here was her boy, bleeding and out of breath.

“Makin’ good choices, Ma. Sometimes they hurt, ain’t they ain’t always the easy ones ta make, but it’s the right thing ta do.”

She shook her head, bemused, but ushered him inside.

The Harvest – Forgiveness

Today’s Flash Fiction is a continuation of the story I posted for the corn related challenge a few weeks ago. I plan on adding to this story serially (cereally?) over the coming weeks. They’ll be available on my Wattpad
page as well. Wattpad is a story sharing site and everything is free. Enjoy the story!

Jake watched the car recede into the distance. He stumbled back a few paces and squinted at his hands. He was having difficulty seeing them. It wasn’t until then that he realized that he was wearing his hood. He ripped it off with his left hand and saw that his right held the sickle. When had he taken it from his belt? He threw it to the ground.

“What have I done?” He’d killed less than a dozen people since he’d first used the sickle as a weapon. They had always been adults, and they had always been alone. He never took more than one a month. It was all the ground required, and they were always the sort of person no one would miss. Then the young couple had come to his farm. Taking them had been an act of impulse. It felt right.

“I enjoyed the killing. I wanted to feel their blood on my hands.” He turned and stumbled to the stairs. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He gave a body to the ground, and it gave back to him tenfold. It wasn’t about joy. It was no more than good farming.

“I sent them.” The whispered voice came from the nearby cornfield.

Jake rubbed at his ears with the heels of his hands. “I’m not hearing this. I almost killed that little girl and her mama. You don’t need them.”

“You are hearing me, Jake. You’ve been good to me. I need you to keep being good to me.”

“I’m hearing voices. My killings are…” He searched for the word that he’d heard on some cop show. “Escalating. Oh my god, I’m a serial killer.” He looked across the driveway at his mask and sickle. “I’m not doing it for you. I’m doing it for me.”

He fell to his knees on the hard packed earth and looked up at the pristine sky. “Take it from me, God!” He held his hands up to the sky, clasped together. It wasn’t the first time he’d begged like this. When his father had still been alive he would take this pose to try and avoid a whipping. He wanted that whipping now. “I don’t want this any more. I’ll be a good boy.”

“God won’t answer you, Jake. I’m the god that you chose.” The corn field rippled at its nearest edge. A man stepped out, dressed in dark jeans and a red and black checked shirt. His face was hidden in the shadow of his hat. Each of the man’s arms ended in a sickle. “You will continue to appease me, Jake.”

Jake’s head whipped around and he looked at the thing that stood there. He screamed and scrambled backwards on all fours. “Oh, no. No, no, no. God, no!” Tears and snot ran down his face.

The thing with hooks for hands strode forward. “Oh yes, Jakey. You will water my fields with blood. You will fertilize it with bones. If you do not do this, then I will be most displeased. You will have to take your station in the field, scaring away the crows.”

Jake’s mind flashed to the scarecrows. He imagined blackbirds unafraid of him as he hung there, arms and legs held in place with bailing twine and barbed wire. They wouldn’t be scared until his eyes and the flesh from his face had been pecked clean. That would take a very long time. Even after his sight was mercifully taken from him, he would hang there for eternity, the sun burning him and the twine cutting into his flesh.

He scrubbed at the snot and tears on his face with the back of one sleeve. “I don’t want that, sir.” His voice was cowed.

The edge of one blade caressed his cheek. “I know you don’t, Jake. So, you go on and do what I tell you to. Then things will go well with you. Only more blood will wash your stained soul clean.”

“Yes, Daddy.” He came to his feet, stumbling a bit as he did. The figure was gone. He walked over to the mask and sickle that lay on the ground. He reached down and grabbed them, tucking them both in his belt. The corn god would send him more people soon. He needed to be ready.

He didn’t want to fail.

The Collector – Naughty Puss

This is a bit of flash I wrote for a character that I want to do a lot more with. I’d love any thoughts or feedback you have. This contains adult language/situations.

Suzanne crawled out of bed and groaned. She sat back against the edge of the bed, her bare ass on the carpet, held her head and wondered how she had let herself be talked into drinking Scotch again. It always gave her a shattering hangover the next day. When she had the strength to stand, she did so slowly, making sure to use the headboard for support. The oak bedposts were stout. Her fingers brushed the cold steel of a handcuff and she smiled. The night hadn’t been a complete loss.

She looked at the bed and frowned. Liam wasn’t there. He must have found a way to get his foot free from the other set of cuffs. That wasn’t surprising. The man had been a hacker and security specialist for a decade. He knew his way around a lock whether it was electronic or physical. The distant sound of a shower gave her a clue as to where he was.

She stretched towards the ceiling, working the kinks out of her nearly six foot frame. As her hands came down, she let them wander over her body. She thought about his lips on her and smiled as her fingertips brushed her mons. The stubble there made her smile at the thought of no longer having to wax thanks to Sean Michael no longer being in her life. He’d gone “walkabout” and there was no telling where he’d wind up. She wanted to grow a proper seventies bush for once.

As her fingers continued down she reached her vulva and winced. She was a bit raw from last night’s escapades. Liam had thrown her over the back of the couch and rogered her properly. She’d been wet, but not wet enough. The rest of the night had been more leisurely, it not exactly tender. She imagined he’d have fun explaining certain visible marks to his colleagues.

She reached down and touched her toes, letting her spine curve. She held the pose and then moved into a Downward Dog. Keeping that pose for just long enough, she walked out further into a full plank and held it until she began to sweat and her arms trembled. She could feel the toxins leaving her body. Her headache hadn’t abated entirely, but she was no longer mildly nauseous. The odors of last night’s sex mingled with the Scotch from a nearby decanter and sweat from the sheets and her own body. She needed a shower.

She walked out of the bedroom and into the short hall to her bathroom. She hated not having a bath she could access directly from the guest bedroom, but using her actual bedroom for a casual visitation was a no-no. She kept too many precious things there and all under lock and key. The guest bed was comfortable enough and had everything it needed for the love nest it was.

The door to the bathroom was closed. A dark shape waited just on the other side. Its body was size of a rugby ball, and she could see the bifurcated tail switching back and forth.

“Nermal, no!” She hissed at the nekomata.

The creature, on the surface a normal looking gray tabby except for the tail, turned its eyes on her. “But mistress.”

“But me no buts. Liam is a guest and he’s not to be trifled with.” She heard a groan from inside the bathroom. It was followed by a girlish giggle that sounded entirely too familiar. She hissed at Nermal and rushed to the bathroom and threw open the door.

The shower doors were clear glass, but had been fogged up by the three shower heads going full blast. There was room in there for four and right now she could make out Liam’s bulky silhouette and that of someone on their knees in front of him. She had her guesses as to who that was supposed to be.

She slid the door open to two shocked faces. The first was Liams, his strong features twisted in a mixture of pleasure and surprise. The second was her own. Her father’s almond shaped eyes were set in a dark brown complexion she inherited from her mother. After two blinks and what she could swear was a wink, the illusion’s face quickly dissipated leaving only the confused and surprised man.

“What the fuck?” Liam looked down at his throbbing cock, where her mouth had been only seconds before. He looked back up at Suzanne.

She smiled at him and followed the same path down and back up his body with her eyes. “I’m touched dear. You couldn’t get enough of me last night and you were dreaming of me in the shower.” She stepped into the steamy cube and pulled the door closed behind her.

“But you were just here.” He didn’t sound entirely convinced.

“Silly man. I was in the bedroom. You wore me out last night.” She looked down into his eyes. They were brown and sharp as Excalibur, if a little confused. “I’m here now though.” She placed her hands on his chest.

He grabbed her wrists. “I love you babe, but I swear by all I am that you were in here and on your knees doing…” he rolled his eyes to the left “wicked things with that tongue of yours.”

She leaned in and kissed him deeply. Their tongues played. She broke the kiss. “Do you taste anything familiar?”

He bit his lower lip. “Just the Scotch from last night.” His eyes slitted. “Maybe it was a dream after all. I do have an active imagination.”

“It seems you’ve left some things unfinished. Shall I?” Without waiting for an answer, she took the place of the illusion that had been here moments before.

The rest of the shower didn’t take long. Soon they were dressed and staring at each other over mugs of coffee.

Liam was dressed for the day in jeans and a bright red tee shirt with a hammer and sickle at its center. She envied him his dress code.

She wore a dark grey suit over a white blouse with simple hammered silver jewelry at her throat and wrists. The client she had an appointment with was looking for a unique item and the potential retainer was in the six figures. She needed to impress.

“About earlier this morning.” Liam sipped his coffee, leaving the question unfinished.

“Not buying the dream explanation?”

He smiled and shook his head. “Not that I haven’t had just such a dream about you, but it was too real.”

She sipped at her own coffee, careful not to smudge her dark red lipstick. There were rules concerning what could be said about such things. She wasn’t bound by any of them, but respected most of them to keep her status as a neutral party intact. “I can explain it, but you probably won’t believe it.”

“Try me.” He sat his mug on the island’s marble countertop and rested against the counter behind him.

“I have a two hundred year old cat that has gained sentience, the power of speech, and the ability to project powerful illusions.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Not going to tell me then?”

Suzanne laughed. “Let’s just chalk it up to the alcohol, the sex, and your meds.” She couldn’t blame him for not believing the truth. It took her a few years of low level exposure to the paranormal before her brain could handle it.

Liam shrugged. “I do love a good mystery. If I figure it out, will you tell me if I’m right?”

“Deal.” She put her mug down and he set his aside. The spent a few minutes in a goodbye snog, one that would require her to fix her makeup. She let him out and sighed as she closed the door behind him. Now it was time to deal with the naughty little puss.

Suzanne went looking for Nermal. She found him in her inner sanctum. He had his own ways of getting in and out no matter what she did. He lay stretched out on the deep purple sham covering the top pillow. “I suppose you are pleased with yourself?”
Nermal lifted a hind leg and began licking himself.

“We don’t treat guests like that.”

Nermal paused in his grooming. “But mistress was treating him precisely like that last evening.”

She sighed. “That is true. But he was getting the real thing last night.”

He cocked his head and flicked an ear at her twice. “Had you not entered he would never have known the difference.”

She wanted to argue the point but Nermal had made her the target of one of his illusions once upon a time. They were disturbingly realistic. “I won’t argue semantics with a two hundred year old cat. I will remind you that you’re here under probation. The Powers The Be said that it was either live with me, or be cast into the Outer Darkness.”

He stood and walked to the end of the bed. He did his own version of Downward Dog, bowing in an obeisance that she wasn’t sure she bought. “I offer my apologies. I will not do anything quite like that again,”

She walked to the foot of the bed and reached out to scratch him between the ears. “I accept your apology and remind you that when you make statements that precise it smacks of creating loopholes. I’m not your jailor or your lawyer. I turn you back over to them and you’ll be in a spot of trouble that I can’t get you out of. You need to stay on my good side.”

“Yes mistress.” He ducked away and returned to her pillow.

She’d gotten used to the hair. It smelled faintly of ginger. She wouldn’t miss it or its owner though. Much.

The Harvest – My Corn Flash Fiction

Under The Empyrean Sky
I’m all about spreading the love. So I’m going to give away a copy of the Kindle version of Under The Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig. All you have to do is write some flash fiction that features corn.

Details are here.

I thought I’d share with you my own corn story. I hope you enjoy it!

Jake stood at the edge of the corn field. The brown leaves whispered to one another. Stalks swayed in the wind. People always mentioned how creepy it was. He wondered if they thought corn fields were creepy before those movies came out, or if that was what started it.

He was pretty sure that there was always an element of fear involved. He’d been out in the middle of the sea of brown when it had still been green. It was hot and claustrophobic. Even then you couldn’t tell if there was someone just on the other side of the curtain of vegetation.

Goosebumps rose up on his skin as he thought about it. He supposed he couldn’t blame people for being afraid. Hell, he’d wet his pants the first time he saw a scarecrow. It wasn’t one of the cutesy Halloween costume jobs. Dad had made it truly terrifying, even for people.

The guardians and the grain didn’t bother him now though. He’d been exposed to it his whole life. It was the life’s blood of his family for generations. Until recently they’d done very well. When things went south, Dad even made their field into a Maize Maze and charged people two bucks a pop to wander around. Laughter coming from the acreage didn’t seem right. It was almost sacrilegious. He and Dad had argued about it, but the old man got his way.

Now that the land belonged to Jake, he’d put an end to that nonsense. Sure, there wasn’t much money in corn, unless you owned one of the mega farms. That didn’t matter much to him. Mom and Dad had huge insurance policies. The house was his free and clear. He planted his corn the old fashioned way and harvested it by hand. A few city folk even came out and bought up the stock he put out for sale. He broke even most years.

Jake took the burlap sack from his belt and pulled it over his head, tying it in place around his neck. The holes were a little hard to see through, but he knew his rows like the back of his hand. All good farmers did. He pulled the hand sickle from his belt and smiled under the mask. The screams were just now becoming audible. The lady from the city must have gotten tired of hiding.

He stepped into the whispering waves of grain. Fear had returned to the land once more. The harvest was ripe for the picking.