Cracked Flash Fiction – Misfire

This is an entry for the Cracked Flash Fiction weekly writing contest. They provide the first sentence, and writers have 300 words maximum to create some fun. Here’s my entry for this week, which is a continuation of the story I wrote for Cracked a few weeks ago, Poker Face:

Misfire

“This is incredibly disturbing to me,” the auditor pressed his gloved finger into the steel flake embedded in Avi’s thigh. The same one she’d pushed just moments before in an attempt to commit suicide.  The micro-injector implanted near her femoral vein, filled with enough etorphine to kill her instantly… didn’t kill her. Avi stood there punching her thigh, not even trying to be sly about it because it wouldn’t matter once she crumpled to the ground. That bolt of pain was supposed to be her last experience on earth.

It never came.

The auditor pressed her leg over and over with each word: “This… (push) is… (push) disturbing… (hard push). The Lieutenant tries to leave us and is thwarted by technology- again! What are the odds? Just like the C-line malfunctioning, right Lieutenant?”

Avi thought she might retch. She didn’t want to die, but she was supposed to be dead. And now they would hook her up to T-95, a mixture of sodium thiopental and a classified element. T-95 had a 100% success rate at garnering truth from any subject. She couldn’t let them put that into her.

Right where she sat, the attendants began strapping her arms to the chair, and a man wearing a white lab coat entered the room.

“This is incredibly disturbing to me,” Avi said, and she stuck her tongue out at the auditor. He smiled, thinking her a brazen captive, her insolence, alluring. When the blood began pouring out of Avi’s mouth, he understood.

“Call the surgeon!” He shouted and flew at her, pulling her jaw apart, his hand slipping on her blood. Again he pried her open and wedged his arm in her mouth. She gagged. He could see his reflection in Avi’s wide eyes, feel her trembling beneath him like an earthquake.

299 words

 

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Revelation 16:15 (a fiction story)

CrackedFlashFictionCompetitionBadgeSmallI’m not really a planner. Planning’s fine for the boss, but my work doesn’t allow for it. Who-moved-my-cheese doesn’t fly when you’ve got thousands of products needing to ship instantly, and tomorrow could be dead. Firefighters don’t plan; they’re ready. Always. That’s how it is with me. I don’t expect you planner-organizers to understand. Just don’t judge me. Don’t hate.

Just-in-time inventory or lean manufacturing- my boss takes them to a whole new realm. We keep zero inventory. The instant I get a product, I sort it and out it goes, quick as a breath. We only have two accounts, but they’re enormous. Think Walmart and China. Between them they’ve got the whole market captured, though one of them is more of an umbrella company with scores of subsidiaries: The wide road, if you will.

I’ve been called a flunky by those who’d like to demoralize me, just a glorified busboy. Office politics can be ruthless. I’m above it.

In my novice days, I tried to prepare for the galactic orders I could smell coming, wars and plagues and such. But there’s no planning with my boss. I’d go one place, expecting a windfall, and lo- death would be blooming someplace else entirely. No one’s allowed to know who’s next, not even me. Security reasons. Who would’ve thought He’d actually sink the Titanic just because they said it was unsinkable? Brazen move, that one. I scurried around like a mother trying to keep up with the orders. So there’s no planning. It’s standard policy in death.

I peel them gently from their corpses and ship them in crates you can’t see, some up, some down. Nine out of ten of them are screaming their surprise that it’s not what they thought it would be. They weren’t planners, either.

298 words

***

This is an entry for Cracked Flash Fiction. Their prompts and contest are the perfect fit for me. They supply the first sentence, and writers supply 300 words of fiction. I didn’t win the first week, which daunted me for half a second. Then I decided I’ll be forthright with my rejections because our failures define us as much as our successes. I think our failures create our successes. Sylvester Stallone wrote the script for Rocky. Did you know that? He pedaled that sucker everywhere and was rejected more than a Jehovah’s Witness before he finally found someone willing to produce it. He had to sell his dog to buy food. Have I told this story before? It’s worth repeating.

CrackedFlashFictionCompetitionBadgeSmallUPDATE 3/17/2016:

I won this week! It made me smile to receive objective critique on my writing, which I forgot to mention was one of the aspects of the contest that really motivated me: you don’t just win if you win, you win feedback on your writing if you win. Confession: How much do I crave feedback on my writing? Think heroin.

Carpool*

Carpools. Whatever responsibility they take from you in terms of time-on-road, they drop back on you in burden-for-others. The half hour stint in rush hour is often fraught with excitement: Thanks to the idiots who use their commute to act out Grand Theft Auto and the crashes they leave behind, or the excitement of a car bursting into flames directly in front of me. Also, the ever-present excitement of will-this-17-year-old-car-make-it? I pray every morning that if I’m to break down, let me break down after I drop the boys off. Of course, it would be a bonus not to break down along Fulton Road, or Hood Road, as I call it, where the burned-out blackened crusts of houses and graffiti scream the warning: You’re not in Kansas anymore.

I may be a mite stressed as I do my leg of the carpool.

The morning began no differently than any other. The car was tomb silent, as it always is. No matter how I try to convince my son to make light conversation with our passenger, he refuses. Both refuse. They are in their iPhones. I am sort of alone. Except I can neither sing badly nor hyperventilate if I’m so inclined.

My heart decides to beat faster. Just like that. My heart, without permission from me and in response to nothing circumstantial, begins to gallop, and I’m driving and I’m thinking, what the… I’m thinking things I’ll leave out here because in a crisis I’m not thinking dag nabbit or dang or gee whiz. I have thirty minutes of Nascar rush hour ahead of me, uncomfortable company in my back seat, and I can’t feel my arms… 

I begin to rehearse how I’ll tell Luke to take over the wheel, should I pass out on I-71.

I don’t want to scare him, just to raise his DEFCON level a bit. Nothing sounds anything short of ludicrous, so I trash the idea. I debate between the fast lane, which will make this hell end sooner, assuming I don’t get pulled over or pass out, and the slow lane which will afford me an easier turn off, in the likely event that I do.

Wheezing threatens. I am drowning a bit in the car because I can’t seem to get enough air to go into my lungs. I take deep, slow breaths, praying that God will let me hang on until we get to school. Then I’ll give myself permission to hyperventalate, to cry, to pass out. I decide to stay in the middle lane and keep praying.

Praying.

Praying.

Praying as we snake through Hood Street. Praying as we close in on the school. My arms feel a bit more alive, and I think, I’ve licked this. Amen. The boys have no idea what I’m holding at bay. We are an arm’s length from one another physically, yet I feel a universe between us.

I drop them off.

I thank God.

Panic attacks can’t always be thought down. I know this. But this was a victory for me. It never materialized fully, and I went on with my day, as if I’m a completely normal person.

*Inspired by a fellow blogger whose writing often makes me smile and who also has panic attacks. I suggested he fictionalize one and see how it goes. This was meant to be my own Experiential Fiction piece, but I changed my mind and left it. I didn’t want to forget the truth before I set it to fiction. New to the panic attack scene, I’m navigating a life that involves personal (very personal) earthquakes with no seismic warning system.