Friday Night Write – Have You Ever Seen the Rain

Written for the Friday Night Write challenge over at Sweet Banana Ink. The challenge: 1 song, 60 hours, 500 words, and the song this time around was the classic Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Credence Clearwater Revival.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Credence Clearwater Revival.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain

The door to the Zippy Mart flew open with a crash that Marco heard over the stereo he had blaring in the Mustang, even though Jake had told him to leave it off, to keep his wits about him.

“I’m wittier with music,” Marco had said, but Jake didn’t have much of a sense of humour. He did have a fearsome temper, though, so Marco had turned it off and waited till Jake was inside before cranking it up again.

He watched open mouthed as Jake careened out of the store, turned to look over his shoulder and crashed headlong into the old Dodge Rambler parked out front.

“Holy shit,” Marco whispered as Jake slammed a fist down on the hood of the Rambler hard enough to make the entire car bounce and came racing across the parking lot. He was yelling something at Marco and waving his arms like a crazy man, and for a moment Marco thought about starting the engine and driving off without him, because no way he wanted to be stuck in a confined space with Jake when he was in full-throttle tantrum mode. The thought of what Jake would do to him when he eventually caught up made him reconsider.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Jake shrieked as he flung open the passenger door and leapt in. “Go! Go! Drive, you moron!”

Marco started the Mustang, slid her into reverse and paused, looking sideways at Jake,  “Um. Dude? Seatbelt?”

“Fucking drive! And turn that stupid shit off!” Jake reached over, ripped the iPod out of the dock and flung it at Marco. “You never listen, do you? You never fucking listen.”

There was no reasoning with Jake when he was in one of his moods, so Marco ignored the seatbelt thing and

“So, hey. What happened in there? You get the cash?”

“Does it look like I got the damned cash? The asshole hit me with a baseball bat! A baseball bat! He jabbed me in the forehead with it,” Jake pulled back a handful of greasy hair and pointed at a purpling bruise, “and then he whacked me in the arm so hard I dropped the gun. God, why do I listen to you? This was supposed to be like taking candy from a baby. This was supposed to fix everything!”

Marco didn’t point out that there wouldn’t be anything to fix if Jake hadn’t gambled away the money Leo had fronted them for the blow. “You got the gun back, though, right? Leo’s going to kill me if I lose the gun. He’s going to kill both of us if we don’t come up with the money.”

“If you want the gun so badly, be my guest. Go back and get your head bashed in by that freaking lunatic in there. God, could this day get any worse?”

Marco glanced at the flashing blue lights in his rearview mirror.

Apparently it could.

(492 words)

Friday Night Write – Dog Days Are Over

Written for the Friday Night Write challenge over at Sweet Banana Ink. The prompt was Florence and the Machine’s Dog Days are Over, and the story is another peek into the dystopian world I started playing around with in Fight for Him.  Feedback of all stripes more than welcome.

Dog Days Are Over

Ben the Sandcatcher poured a couple of inches of Johnny Walker Red Label into a cracked blue plastic tumbler and pushed it across the table toward me. I hate whiskey of any description, but I choked it back, letting the fire of it stoke the anger in my belly, the anger that kept cooling into fear and dread. If I had to stay drunk to stay strong, I’d drink anything, even the throat-sanding homemade concoctions distilled by the Mercury sisters down the beach.

“You’re being a fucking retard about this, you know that, right?” Ben shook his head at me. “They’re looking for you Anna, for you and the rugrat. Your stuff was all over the cottage. And even if it hadn’t been, Matt will have told them everything by now. Everything. No one’s safe.”

We both looked over at Tiz, sacked out in a corner of the cave on the pillows Ben used for a couch.

“Ben, I can’t–”

“Yes, you fucking can, Anna. You think Matt would want any different? You think he wouldn’t do the same if it had been you? You two were stupid enough to breed when we’re in the middle of a god damned war, now you live with the consequences. And right now, that kid is the only consequence that matters.”

The last of the evening sun bled through the mouth of the cave, saturating the gloom with its warmth and light. It was going to be dark soon. A couple of weeks ago, Matt and I would have been on the beach at this time of day, savouring the last of the summer warmth, Tiz curled up between us on the fake Navajo blanket I’d jacked from the back of a pickup in the spring. We’d have been sharing jokes, or kissing, or arguing about whose turn it was to join the Boosters for the next supply run on the city.

I reached over and put my hand on Ben’s, even though I knew he hated to be touched. He didn’t pull away, didn’t look away.

“You know perfectly well that Matt would never, ever in a million years walk away from me,” I said. “He’d do exactly what I’m going to do. Find a safe place in the city to use as a base, and then start looking.”

“There’s no such thing as a safe place in the city, Anna. Even if you find him when they let him go, he’s not going to be the same person. You know that. They’ll have taken his mind apart, ripped out everything that made him Matt.”

The sun slid lower in the sky, and the cave grew dim and shadowy and cool. I could barely make out Ben’s tangled beard or his sharp crow eyes.

“Then I’ll just have to find him before they’re finished with him, won’t I?”

(481 words, including title)

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.