So, the very cool J.J. Anderson featured me on his blog for my flash fiction writing! Go forth and check out his blog, including the parts that aren’t about me! But then come back. Because I love you and we gots shit to do together today.
Aside from the awesome factor of this gentleman carving out a chunk of his blog for yours truly, there was a moment of head scratching where I thought to myself, “Self,” I thought, “haven’t you written a bit more flash fiction than all that on your Fiction page?”
And then after another moment of head scratching, I thought, “Why, yes. You have.”
Part of it was J.J. attempting to track down a bit of Twitter flash fiction he’d seen and lost in the abyss of The Timeline, which happened to be about killing a chicken. I thought, “I just wrote a blog post about not doing that.” My second thought was, “And I wrote a piece of flash about doing EXACTLY that.” I sifted through the Engine of Search (that’d be Google) and found it. And posted it on my fiction page where it belongs. Which has really nothing to do with this post at all. This post is a whole other thing.
You’re welcome for that ramble.
This post is my ineligible contribution to last summer’s End of the World Flash Fiction Contest, which I ran in July. It was a highly successful and awesome contest, and I had fun creating my own entry just for the halibut. The prompt was, in essence, happenings that occur the day before the end of the world. My preference was for human snapshots, moments that show they don’t know what’s coming — but you, O Wise Omniscient Reader, you do. I hope I captured that essence in this flash fiction piece.
Additionally, this happens to be my 500th post. *nostalgic sniffle*
I thought about doing something extravagant, like tooting a kazoo on YouTube or painting my face with gold. But then I thought to myself, “Self,” I thought, “you’re a writer. Your 500th post could totes be a bit of your writing. You know, the fiction kind. As opposed to the other kind that normally pollutes people’s eyeballs with this blog.”
(I usually don’t use the word “totes.”)
So here you go, gentle viewers. Here’s my little snapshot of the day before the end of the world. I hope you enjoy. And happy 500th postiversary to me!
by Emmie Mears
I hear the chuffing growl of the engine just as the cherry of my cigarette hits the filter. It’s close, but I can’t see it. But I know what it is.
“Shit.” I stomp on the butt and kick it into the grass. “Shit.”
I come around the corner just as the tow truck lifts my battered Buick onto its back axle.
“This yours?” The driver’s mouth is pinched and puckered like a dog’s asshole, and she spits on the ground before I can get the image out of my head.
“I was just having a smoke. I gotta get back on the road. My kid graduates tomorrow.”
“I’ve already done the papers, Mister. Sorry.” Her hand is creased like her mouth, and it feels like leather when her skin brushes mine as she offers a business card.
“Look. Please? I haven’t seen my little girl in five years.” My fingers jab at the healed track marks at the crook of my left arm, and as the driver’s gaze follows, I pretend I’m slapping a mosquito. “I gotta be there.”
“Maybe you should’ve left earlier.”
I snort a laugh. “Yeah, maybe. Ended up losing my job anyway.”
Her jaw slackens as she takes in my appearance. I know what I look like. Boots like barely tanned leather. Jeans I had to scrape the cow shit off of before the laundromat owner let me wash them. White button down I got for two bucks at the Second Run Thrift Store and spilled mustard on at dinner. Yeah, I know what I look like. Burned out cowboy who took too many do-si-dos with needles.
“Where’re you headed?”
She nods. Hope tickles my chest.
“Yard’s open all night. You should hit the Texas border by four or so. It’s not the end of the world.”
It’s half past ten. “How much to get my car out?”
Could be worse. Could be five. This way, it’s fifty bucks less than I got to my name.
“Where’s the yard?”
“Five miles down Route 15. Turn right there,” she points. “And just keep walking. You’ll see it.”
“Can’t I hitch a ride with you?”
“It’s not allowed.” She slams the door of the tow truck and tips her hat at me. “Good luck getting to your girl.”
The sun’s long gone to sleep, but the Mississippi air smothers me before I make it a mile. My white shirt soaks through in minutes and clings to my chest.
It’s almost midnight before I make it to the yard. My stomach’s sounding like the tow truck, but I hand over my two fifty-three to the attendant, grab a Slim Jim and a Coke, and snatch my keys from his hand.
“Second row,” he says.
Little Lou’s graduation is at one. I’m gonna make it.
I crank the air as soon as the engine turns over, and it cools my skin and brightens my mood as I speed west.
I’ll be there.
Tomorrow I’ll make things right.
“Oh, come now, Emmie,” you say. “Vengeance on a Tuesday? And on your 300th Postday? I think I need a sandwich. Or a single malt.”
Ah, but you don’t know what you’re in for, gentle viewers. You don’t know what glory awaits.
Excuse me while I tap my fingers together and mua ha ha.
We have our first entry in the End of the World Flash Fiction Contest! So because this is my 300th post on this blog, I decided to give the awesome writer a surprise — I made her a badge for launching the first volley at the End of the World.
Kudos to N.E. White for taking point! This badge is all yours to display, to hoard, to lovingly caress in the wee hours of the morning.
Or whatever people normally do with badges.
You can read the story right here. Enjoy — I did.
Oh, what’s that I hear? A call to arms? Get writing, writers.
by N. E. White
Denali’s index finger brushes against the call button on her cell phone. She does not hear the rise in the voices around her as they toast her abuser, nor the music from the band they hired to celebrate his retirement.
The hardwood floor of the bar shudders to the beat. She feels it thumping in her chest and head. It jostles the explosives strapped to her midriff. Taped tight to her skin, the adhesive chaffs. Gazing at the crowd through strands of her hair, she supposes raw skin would soon be the least of her worries.
Her stare locks onto her target; a man of middling age with a gut to match his ego. She can see his thick tongue bounce as he laughs. The memory of that tongue forcing its way down her throat makes Denali gag, and tears spring to her eyes. It had found other places to probe on her young body when she had been defenseless, but now she would wipe him from the face of the earth. Along with those around him, she thought. They deserved it, too. Why hadn’t they protected her? Instead they had ignored her pleas as the cries of “the girl who called wolf.”
Her watery gaze looks down at the display on her cell phone. It shows a five-digit number. God’s vengeance, the manual had called it. Pressing the call button would send the numbers to the receiver on her back and all would be over, blessedly over.
She takes in a shuddering breath and positions her finger over the button.
“Denali? Is that you? What are you doing here?”
Someone spins Denali around and she faces her first-grade school teacher. Denali had thought Mrs. Cook ancient back then, but now she sees the lines on her cheeks disappear into a wide grin.
Blinking back tears, Denali stutters a reply.
“I was just walking by. I saw…”
“What?” Mrs. Cook says. She presses one hand over an ear, and raises her voice. “Mr. Peters, you say? Yes, he’s finally decided to retire. You were a student of his, right?”
Denali nods, and moves away, but Mrs. Cook follows with small mincing steps that Denali used to think was cute. Denali mutters under her breath and walks away, but Mrs. Cook continues to follow, a question on her face, her fingers tugging on Denali’s thick sweater . Turning back toward her, Denali shouts, “Stay away from me!” into an unexpected silence.
Blushing, Denali looks around. The band stands mute. The TV over the bar is on. Pictures of battleships positioning over cities around the globe shuffle over the screen. The ships pulse with crackling lightning and Denali knows the instant she sees them that they are alien. The call letters of the station is superimposed on the left-hand corner, but there’s no announcer explaining what is going on.
“Is this the end of the world?” someone asks.
Denali says, “Yes,” and with the frailty of youth sends God’s vengeance.