Friday Night Write – Far from Home

Friday Night Write time again! One song, 500 words, 48 hours. This time the song prompt was Far from Home by Five Finger Death Punch.

Comments and constructive criticism welcome and appreciated! And don’t forget to check out the other entries over at Sweet Banana Ink.
Far (499 words)
The only light in the cell comes from the blinking red eyes in each corner of the ceiling. Overkill, really. The cell is barely bigger than a dumpster, just a box with enough room for a piss-stinky mattress and a seatless toilet. A single camera would be adequate to surveil every possible movement from within. Maybe the other three are back ups, Matt thinks.
Matt doesn’t believe for a second that just because he can’t see anything doesn’t mean that they aren’t watching his every move. Not much joy for them there after the first couple of days. Now that he knows the savage pain in his belly, groin, and neck is from buises and lacerations rather than broken bones, and now that he knows there is no hope whatsoever of exiting this cell without external intervention, he spends most of his time in his head. Every few hours, he does sit ups or hoists the mattress against the wall and jogs in place until the cold, bare concrete renders his bare feet swollen and numb. Otherwise, he waits. And thinks.
He’s been here two days. Maybe only one. Maybe four. No food. No visitors. They’re softening him up. Making him weak. Readying him for the questioning.
Matt’s heard about the questioning. That guy with the hockey mask and no hands he and the Sandcatcher met at Delilah’s on one of their supply-boosting trips to the city. The emaciated old lady with the twisted legs who rolled herself around the city backstreets in a rusty red wagon, using an old chair leg as an oar to propel herself forward. They’d both sold their stories for the price of a can of food, Heinz baked beans for him, Del Monte pears for her.
Yes, Matt knows all about the questioning. He closes his eyes and gathers the fear from the corners of his mind where it skulks and moans, pulls it out where he can look at its many faces before sinking each like a stone into deliberate oblivion:
The fear of the pain to come. He studies it. Shudders. Breathes. It will be what it will be.
The fear of what he will become. He sighs. It’s not knowable. It will be what it will be.
The fear of what he will reveal. Please. Don’t let it be everything.
Face by face, he acknowledges his fear and lets it go. Until he reaches the last, the most dangerous:
The fear of what has become or will become of Anna and Tiz. Are they safe? Have they been captured? Are they in the next cell?
Matt shakes his head, concentrates. No use. This fear is all that’s left of him. It might be his greatest weakness, but it’s the only reason he has for not chewing through his own tongue and bleeding his life out onto this pissy mattress.
He opens his eyes. Stares from one blinking light to the other. Come on then, you fuckers. Let’s rock and roll.”

Friday Night Write #4 – Rabbit’s Foot

Another piece of flash fiction for the fourth round of Sweet Banana Ink’s Friday Night Write. The prompt this time was I Ain’t Superstitious by Jeff Beck, chosen to celebrate the spirit of Friday the 13th. In keeping with that spirit, my story is on the darker side, once again. 

Rabbit’s Foot

The year Sammy turned eleven, his best friend Toby’s parents divorced, and Toby moved back to the mainland with his mum, his pet hamster Kicker, and the lucky rabbit foot Sammy had given him as a parting gift. The rabbit’s foot had been a gift to Sammy from his dad, but it had always kind of creeped him out, and he’d never been too sure that he’d want the kind of luck that came with chopping off an animal’s foot. Toby had coveted it at first sight, though.

Because Toby was also Sammy’s only friend, his abrupt departure meant Sammy had to stop riding his bike to the Husky Station after school for his daily Dr. Pepper, unless he wanted to get beaten up by Gary Voller and his gang of psycho hangers-on or have his backpack up-ended by them into Watt’s Creek.

Toby hadn’t been exactly popular, nor particularly big, but he was a scrapper and he had no fear. Of anything. Except maybe Sammy’s mother, who never opened her front door without a machete in her hand, and who slept with her 12-gauge Ithaca shotgun lying beside her in the same spot Sammy’s father used to occupy before he’d sneaked off to the mainland a couple of years ago with the mayor’s wife.

At any rate, with Toby around, life had been simpler, and Sammy had been to move about with minimal interference, because even Gary Voller and his GV-Wannabes didn’t mess with Toby. Sammy had hoped that with Toby gone, his own protected status would remain intact by virtue of his mother’s steadily expanding reputation as a whack-job. Unfortunately, either Gary didn’t pay attention to the gossip, or he knew that most days Sammy’s mother barely registered Sammy’s existence and never let maternal instincts come between her and a bottle of Beefeater’s.

With Toby gone, Sammy started spending the cool fall afternoons sitting on a moss-covered rock down by Grey Lake, reading Spiderman and X-Men comics, chewing his cuticles, and sniffing himself to see if he really smelled as bad as Gary said he did. When the sky darkened and the treeline started to blur in the gloom, when he could be reasonably confident his mother would have retired to her bedroom with her bottle and her shotgun, he’d push his bike back through the woods toward the leaky-roofed bungalow, peering over his shoulder at regular intervals to make sure the Gary gang wasn’t creeping up behind him.

It was ironic, he thought many years later, how terrified he’d been of a group of pre-pubescent, zit-infested bully boys when the thing that would end up visiting his nightmares and haunting every nook and cranny of his future waking life was lying in wait for him in the living room of that bungalow, sprawled on her back, fingers pale as potworms curled around the trigger of the shotgun, the remains of the left side of her face and head dappling the faded yellow roses on the wallpaper.

Friday Night Write – Over My Head

A piece of flash fiction written for the Friday Night Write challenge over at Sweet Banana Ink. The prompt was Frey’s “Over My Head”–please don’t ask how I managed to get this story out of that song…

Warning: This is a bit nasty, in an understated sort of way.

Charity switched off the drill and took another swig of water. Frickin’ boards were crooked. Again. She thought about removing the screws and starting again, but she’d already done that twice, and it was getting late to be drilling. One of the neighbours , probably that old bitch from across the hall with the pop eyes and those skinny little disapproving lips, would start bashing on the door and complaining, and she was so mad right now she didn’t trust herself to do something with the drill they’d both regret.
No noise after ten. What kind of a stupid rule was that? It’s not like any of the losers who lived there actually worked for a living. Pot heads, welfare scammers, penny ante drug dealers, old people who’d been too stupid to save their money so they could live out the last days of their miserable, arthritic lives somewhere better, that was the calibre of the residents of this shit-hole. That’s why Charity had chosen it.
She stood back and surveyed her handywork. The boards were a little crooked, but they covered up the bathroom window just fine. The old pillow that Charity had placed between the boards and the window pane was visible through a couple of the gaps, but you wouldn’t be able to see outside. Or inside. To be sure, she pulled the door closed and flipped the light switch. Beautiful. Not a hint of streetlight came through.
Charity switched the light back on and grinned at her reflection in the cheap mirror, and her reflection grinned back at her, wobbly and distorted. “You go, girl,” she said to herself with a wink, pulling the package of Export As out of the top pocket of her coveralls. “Go ahead, have a smoke. You’ve earned it.”
Charity inhaled deeply, exhaled three perfect rings of smoke that lifted and separated and disappeared as they collided with the mattress-lined walls. That had been a treat, getting those matresses cut into sections and screwing them over the ceiling, floors and walls. Just three or four more pieces to fit into place, one over the window that she’d just boarded up, the others against the wall where the sink and toilet had stood before she’d liberated them from their moorings. She wondered if she should remove the mirrored cabinet, too, and decided, yes. Best to be safe.
Pinching out the cigarette, Charity tucked it into the left front pocket of her coveralls to join the thirteen other butts that waited there for a more satisfactory disposal. She peered around the door toward the living room. Lovely. Stephen was trussed up nice and tidy like a stack of old newspapers, still out cold. Amazing what half a bottle of benzos followed by a good whack to the head with a two by four could do.
Stupid bastard, she thought. Thought we were friends. Try to rip off my grow op, will you?

Belated Friday Night Write Entry: Fight for Him

I wrote this for the Friday Night Write challenge over at Sweet Banana Ink, but managed to miss the deadline by half an hour. Life, you do have a way of interrupting the creative process, I have to say. I’m posting it anyway, because, really, what else am I going to do.

Fight for him

They came in the afternoon when the sun was still high and the gulls were hovering and plunging over the waves, crying their lonesome cries and stealing one another’s plunder.

We hadn’t planned for the afternoon. They always came in the dark. Always.

Matthew heard them first, the low thunder of the prison buggies as they rolled and bumped along the sand toward our bungalow. He’d been outside on the stepladder screwing the shutters back into place, a task we’d both been procrastinating over since they’d been blown half off in the spring hurricanes. Tiz and I were making music inside, a cacophonic symphony built on layers of voice, an out of tune ukelele and the relentless banging of a wooden spoon against the old stainless steel stew pot. Our voices threaded in and out of the distant call of the seabirds and the steady curses from Matthew as he kept dropping or swallowing the screws he insisted on carrying in his mouth.

The swearing and shutter rattling broke off. I glanced toward the window, waiting for him to start again. Nothing. I put my fingers to Tiz’s lips and grabbed the spoon before it could make contact again with the reverberating pot. He must have sensed something too, because he didn’t object or try to bite my fingers.

And then there was a brilliant flash of sunlight as the front door slammed open, and Matthew was inside.

“Shit,” he said. “Oh, god, shit, Anna, they’re here. Just up the beach. They’ll be here any minute!”

He grabbed my arm and hauled me to my feet, scooping tiny Tiz up in his other arm. “Take him,” he said. “Get into the pit. Now!”

“You too,” I whispered back.

“I can’t. They saw me. They’ll rip this place into slivers if they don’t find anyone in it.” He pulled me close, us close, and there was time to feel the heat of his sun-soaked skin burn into me, to smell his sweat, to kiss his sweet face. And then we were apart, yanking up the trap door, Tiz and I sliding down into the cellar, watching the light blink out as Matthew dropped the door back into place.

We huddled, Tiz and I, in the damp dark, my hand pressed over Tiz’s mouth, his little fingers pulling at my bigger ones, but playfully, like this was the usual game we played when we ehearsed. Matthew was always there when we rehearsed, me and Matthew and Tiz in the chilly dark, playing at silence. The way we’d planned it.

I heard later from Ben the Sandcatcher that there were only two of them. He thought that Matthew was still alive when they carried him out, thought he saw him wave up toward the cliff caves where Ben lives.

Only two.

We could have handled only two.

I can’t believe I didn’t fight for him.