Zer0flash Fiction: Absolute Camouflage

Assignment from Zer0flash: create spine-tingling flash fiction inspired by this tranquil video of a dam in Cambridge.

Absolute Camouflage 

The lake floor was crusted over with garbage and cans and the slimy brown bones of a dying tree. Long, leafy willow locks writhed over the water’s edge, and even the gentlest breeze could slough off a confetti of brittle branches.

In the shade crouched a grasshopper, stock-still until a boot slammed into the spongy ground beside him. Startled, the creature performed his usual crescent jump. Not even the boot-owner noticed: at the highest point of the arc the insect crashed into an invisible obstacle. His cracked and oozing exoskeleton plopped into the water.

No one noticed the frogs either. Right off the lily pads a phantom hand plucked their shiny bodies and squeezed until their insides burst from their mouths in a sticky cornucopia. Ducks dipped their iridescent heads, popped their spade-shaped tail feathers into the air where they bobbed on the surface. And were abruptly sucked down.

You’d have to be looking dead on or you’d miss it.

At sunrise a jogger noticed swan feathers floating like opals on the dark ripples. He shrugged and continued on his way. Later,  Jimmy came with his mum to float his paper wax boat. By then the feathers were blown to the shoreline. Jimmy pushed them into the mud with his shoe.

When he got too close to the edge, chilly water seeped into his shoes. His boat, his very own creation, gloriously heaved and dipped. With a bounce he tugged on his mum’s coat, thrilled by his own awesomeness.

Then he frowned and yanked hard on his mother. The vessel caught a gust of wind and headed toward the curling punch of overflowing water.  Just before the boat crumpled under the force, Jimmy’s mum snatched it and held it high. The water reached her thighs.

“It’s ok, Jimmy,” she said.

 

 

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Patreonizing: Flash Fiction, Metafiction

[Patreon is a membership platform that enables artists to live off their craft. Or maybe it’s a Go-Fund-Me for creatives. Anyone who lives with an artist understands the financial black hole spawned by art. Or, to put it plain: How is a small pepperoni pizza like a full-time writer? Neither can feed a family of four. Below is my flash fiction about a struggling writer.]

Patreonizing

I was too jaded to believe. Strangers Friends Followers pay me to read my short stories? My own mother wouldn’t read my stories, for free.

I had one foot in the world composed of atoms and one foot in the world I composed. Transitions most abused me. Once I became devoted to a story, I needed to be hauled out with a whale hook by things like a notice of electricity shut off or the reek of my parakeet having died.

My first assignment was from an anonymous Patreon who wanted a short story in which the following three elements appeared: 1. A male writer protagonist, 2. Who cheats on his girlfriend, and 3. And is gruesomely murdered. Then eaten.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I cheated on my girlfriend.

You’re wrong. I broke up with Cheryl several hours before my first date with Nina. And my Patreon couldn’t be Cheryl because Cheryl spent all her time on Facebook, where she promptly assassinated my character in pithy sayings on pastel backgrounds

For a thousand bucks I’d write Cheryl nice and give her a sex scene to shame Solomon. The joke would be on her when she had to fork over the cash.

I started writing. Almost instantly there was a knock at the door. I ignored it. Some writers had a muse. I had an anti-muse who connived to throw a cat into my zone. The cat would dig his tines into my thighs, the phone would vibrate, the eggs would boil over, the doorbell ring. In fact, the door had begun to pound, or a pounding had begun upon the door. Each strike rattled the hinges and birthed dust plumes that danced and died around the frame with each now-thunderous knock.

I would not be interrupted.

 

His First

terrorist“I need to talk to a human,” he demanded. “You’re just a– figurehead.” Yasin crinkled his nose and reflexively shut his eyes against the whiff of decomposition that slithered into his senses. The stench pervaded the whole block, but it was savagely cloying, this close. Black flies skittered in a turbulent cloud and then settled back into their business, whirring their putrescent songs.

Behind him his neighbors furtively pulled out their phones and began to record him. None dared laugh.

“You couldn’t cooperate, could you, apostate.” Yasin grabbed the sweat-slicked hair of the young Kurd he’d killed days ago. He wound the greasy locks in his fingers for a good, tight grip, and ripped it from the stake where it had presided over the corner of Babis and Sandz streets for the past three days. Taunting him.

His botched decapitation had been viewed more than 24 thousand times on YouTube.

Yasin, struggling with the dull blade, had tugged and twisted the Kurd’s head while his eyes blanked into oblivion. The neck. Yasin hadn’t considered how tough the neck would be, like those stubborn cypresses his father bade him cut. He’d get partway through and then the green, fleshy insides would be too strong for his pathetic tool. He’d twist and pull but the sinews wouldn’t break.

The video showed his comrades in the background laughing at Yasin’s ineptness, at his arms trembling with exertion, slick with sweat. A drop of Yasin’s saliva fell onto the Kurd’s cheek, but they said Yasin cried for him.

It was his first time.

The neck defied him, disturbed him to the point of madness. The past three days Yasin invented and fortified a defense for his wounded pride: That man was not human. No human being had that much resistance in his body.

************

[Entry for Cracked Flash Fiction contest. They provide the first sentence, and you have three hundred words with which to play. I haven’t done this contest in a while because my Saturdays have been busy with swim meets and picnics– good stuff. My novel is at 35K words, thank you, CampNaNoWriMo! For the first time ever, I’ve written myself into a plot knot the size of the Grand Canyon, and I’m trying to figure out how to reasonably move my characters to a resolution. A good problem to have– enough plot that it can get snagged on itself! My past attempts had the plot length of my pinky finger, so we’re moving ahead. 🙂

This flash fiction piece was a welcome, if dark, break from my novel. The incidents in Nice, France, have got me thinking about these people who so blithely mow down living, breathing, innocent souls whose crime is that they aren’t on the same team. How does a mind reconcile doing that to people? Trying to figure it out in this 300 word flash fiction piece.]