Flash Fiction Friday: Triple Gary Bonanza!
To make up for my incredible failure as a fiction editor last week, and hopefully regain the respect of my readers, I give you the belated holiday gift of three Gary’s. The first two Gary’s appear in Steve Lowe’s tiny, ridiculous story: “Short Gary Takes a Cow to California.” The third Gary is the hero of Daniel Vlasaty’s tale of super-cute alien invasion: “Feathers.”
There’s nothing like three Gary’s.
Without further ado, I give you:
Short Gary Takes a Cow to California
by Steve Lowe
The shorter of the two Garys walked up to the gas station attendant and said, “How far to the Perry Hotel in Yorba Linda?”
The gas station attendant wiped his greasy hands with a greasy rag and said, “Yorba Linda? Isn’t that in California?”
The taller Gary adjusted his belt and said, “Yeah.”
The gas station attendant said, “But we’re in Indiana. If you want to know how far it is from there to here, I suppose it would be about fifteen hundred miles. Give ‘er take.”
Short Gary did math in his head and with his fingers in the air. He carried a one.
Tall Gary pressed his index fingers into his belly on each side of his belly button. He shook his head because his own mental math did not add up favorably. “That’s no good. I have to go right now and I don’t think I’ll make it.”
Short Gary got to division and got stuck. “What about if we flew to California from here?”
“No good,” Tall Gary said. He winced. “Cars aren’t properly equipped for air travel.” He looked at the gas station attendant and said, “Unless…” He poked the air three times to make ellipses.
The gas station attendant shook his head. “Don’t think so. Oil change is the best I can offer you. Don’t do aviation conversion and such around here.” He waved his hands over his head to show the Garys where here was. They looked around and were skeptical.
“Won’t do,” Short Gary said.
Tall Gary agreed with the whole of his heart, which he normally wore upon his shirtsleeves. “This will absolutely not do,” he said. His colon agreed with a rumble. He said to the gas station attendant, “Since this is not going to do and we are at a crossroads, may I please have the key to your gas station restroom?”
The gas station attendant grimaced and shook his head. “Sorry, but the toilet’s been out of order since 1982.”
Short Gary looked at the sign on the wall behind the counter and read the words aloud, mainly because Short Gary considered his speaking voice to be very pleasant sounding. “Proudly Serving This Community Since 1988.”
Short Gary said, “That’s rather incongruent, yes?”
The Garys waited for the gas station attendant to respond. The gas station attendant smiled and said, “At your service, gentlemen.”
Tall Gary’s stomach bucked. “I don’t think I’m going to make it,” he said. He shuffled to the door holding his busy guts in his hands.
Short Gary told the gas station attendant, “You know, you should see about getting that fixed.”
“Anytime,” said the gas station attendant. He selected a bag of Combos, Nacho Cheezey flavor, from the rack on the counter. A dog barked from a back room with the word ORAFICE stenciled on the door. “Come back again and see us real soon now.” He pulled his greasy rag from his pocket and wiped his Cheezey hands.
Short Gary walked outside. Tall Gary was slouched over with his arms encircling his waist. He was as tall as Short Gary now. He said, “I don’t know what to do. Should I hold it in, or let it all out?”
Short Gary said, “I don’t know. But we should get ourselves a car if we want to drive to Yorba Linda. Or an airplane.”
Tall Gary moaned. “Gary, I’m not going to make it.”
Water seeped up out of the dirt. They watched it bubble around and over their shoetops and swirl about to their knees.
“We could take a boat to California,” Short Gary said.
A cow floated by, mooing at them as they treaded water. Tall Gary sank. Short Gary climbed aboard the cow. He plucked a Ping Pong paddle out of the floating debris. His cow lowed and bobbled along in the water under the sea power of his paddle.
A greasy, Cheezey rag floated by. Short Gary saw a green highway sign that was halfway underwater, and which informed him that California was 1,834 miles away. He shifted the paddle to his other hand and doubled his efforts.
“Miles to go,” Short Gary said. “Miles to go.”
by Daniel Vlasaty
The first egg hatches and everything goes dark. The moon falls from the sky like a crashing plane, and all clouds are instantly turned to water. They fall to the earth in a fine mist. News reporters continue reporting the news even though there is no longer any electricity. They speak through dead microphones into dead cameras.
Gary wakes up covered in a thick layer of sweat. He looks around the room, through the darkness, and realizes that his fan has stopped. Gary cannot sleep without a fan. He sweats too much. Even in the dead of winter, at the protest of his wife, he still needs a fan. He walks over to the fan and slaps it once like it’s been a naughty girl. This does not fix the problem. Gary does not know that the electricity has gone out. He is not aware that the entire city is blanketed in darkness.
He also does not know that eggs are hatching all over the city.
Gary is just pissed about his stupid fan.
“Hello,” a voice calls from downstairs, in the kitchen.
Gary looks over at his wife’s sleeping body. Who the hell could that be? Karen must have left the TV on before she came to bed, he thinks.
“Hello,” the voice calls again. It sounds cartoonish.
More and more eggs hatch, all across the city.
Gary stumbles through the darkness, moving slowly with arms stretched out in front of him.
Gary makes it downstairs and something outside explodes. The house goes from dark to bright orange to dark again in one single second. Gary falls over and instinctively throws his arms over his head, to protect himself. Once everything settles back to normal, he stands and peeks out the window. He sees things outside. Some of the things are round and moving gently from side to side. Others are thin and wobbling around the street like drunks. They have large heads and small bodies.
“Hello,” the voice says again.
“Hello?” Gary responds, not knowing what else to do.
His reply is met with a frantic shuffling from the kitchen. Gary moves faster now, assuming he is about to catch a burglar in the act. He makes his way into the kitchen and his eyes begin adjusting to the light. “Hello,” the voice says again, and everything around Gary snaps into focus. He is able to see through the darkness.
There is a large featherless bird standing on the kitchen table in front of Gary. The bird is pacing back and forth. He sees more of these featherless birds moving about in the back yard. They are converging on the back door.
“What the—” Gary begins, but the featherless bird cuts him off.
“Hello,” it says.
All the naked birds outside respond in unison with: “Hello.” The pressure of their beaks and bodies causes every window on the first floor of Gary’s house to shatter. They move inside and crowd around the kitchen table, holding featherless wings out to the one standing above them. Their big round eyes roll back to show only the whites.
“What…what the hell are you…you things?” Gary says.
“What…what the hell are you…you things?” some of them repeat, mimicking Gary’s voice.
“Hello,” others say.
The bird on the table jumps up and flaps its featherless wings. It does this a few times before giving up. It is unable to fly. It steps down from the table and moves over to Gary.
There are more explosions outside, coming from every direction. All the lights in the house flicker on and off.
Gary takes a step back.
The other birds are approaching him. Gary opens his mouth and an egg slides out of it. The creature in front of him reaches out a featherless wing and catches it. Gary tries to scream but more eggs come out. He chokes on them.
Most of the eggs are caught by the bird creatures but some of them fall to the floor and shatter like cheap glass. There are babies in these shattered eggs. Human babies, bird babies, and combinations of the two. A human baby with a bright orange beak hatches at Gary’s feet. It climbs up Gary’s leg, up his shirt, and stops on his shoulder. It reaches over and forces Gary’s mouth open. The beaked baby steps into Gary’s mouth.
Gary swallows it.
His stomach begins to glow a bright green color. The green is warm and Gary can feel the baby moving around in there. It is comforting at first but then he feels the baby growing. The baby takes over Gary’s body. It peels Gary’s skin off like wet laundry. The other bird creatures cheer. “Hello,” they say together.
Upstairs, Karen rolls over and swats at the empty space next to her. “Gary,” she says, “you left the TV on downstairs. Go turn it off.”
Steve Lowe is the author of Muscle Memory. If you wish to ding-dong-ditch him, Steve lives here -
Daniel Vlasaty lives in Chicago. He works at a methadone clinic and reads comic books. His stories have been published online in The Mustache Factor.