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Flash Fiction Friday

Flash Fiction Friday: In My Younger and More Vulnerable Years, My Father Used to Take Me to the Strip Club and Make Me Hold Down Drunks While He Rolled Them for Empty TUMS Travel Containers and Raspberry Fruit Roll-Ups

by: David S. Atkinson

I spent the better part of the afternoon packaging up my excreta in cardboard boxes and clear packing tape again. It’s time consuming, but there isn’t a whole lot of choice. Given my particular situation, I have to dispose of it through the mail.

A piece of advice: don’t try to get money off a leaky sink faucet repair by challenging a plumber to single combat. They are much better trained on the Bolivian balloon Theremin than one might imagine. Also, if you accuse them of cheating, neither they nor any other contractor will come to your house ever again.

My toilet broke the next day.

At this point, I wish I’d just paid the requested $20. Who will install a toilet for me now? I attempted the operation myself but somehow ended up with a new concrete patio instead. Those directions are so confusing. I don’t even live on the ground floor.

This left me in dire straits, nothing to go on and all. I was barred from the Rotary Club hall down the street within a week and needed to come up with another solution fast. That’s when I stumbled across those remote medical testing services.

Seriously, those are a Godsend. I get cancer screening for my colon at least once a week now. I’m pretty sure I’m clean after so many, but it gets rid of the feces all right. No one has complained that I send thirty times the indicated sample amount. The procedure does get expensive, but until I’m forgiven there’s not much else I can do.

At least I get a deal on the spectrographic body composition urine analysis I send to that place that usually serves pig farms. I don’t know how they haven’t figured out that I’m not livestock, but I’m not asking any questions. It’s enough work to let the liquid evaporate down a bit to save on shipping as it is.

Regardless, we all do what we have to in life. That’s what mama always taught me—though she was also the one who started combatting tradespeople instead of coughing up the fee. Perhaps I should have been a bit more judicious on which of her lessons I learned.

It might have helped.

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David S. Atkinson is the author of books such as Roses are Red, Violets are Stealing Loose Change from my Pockets While I Sleep; Apocalypse All the Time; and the Nebraska Book Award-winning Not Quite so Stories. He is a staff reader for Digging Through The Fat, and his writing appears in Spelk, Jellyfish Review, Thrice Fiction, Literary Orphans, and more. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Iceberg

by: JP Vallières

We couldn’t get the iceberg to melt no matter how hard we tried: blow torch, bonfire, hairdryer, rubbing our butts back and forth to the song, That’s the Way (I Like It). I’m not into melting things usually, but there were some important items encased in that berg: one wooly mammoth, a sabertooth tiger, a mummy, and my girlfriend.

“Come on guys,” I cried. “Let’s melt this sucker. Uh uh, I like it!”

“I’m tired,” said Barb. Barb hated staying up past her bedtime. “We should get under my covers and sleep together and do other things to get warm.”

“It’s not that late, Barb,” I said, “and we don’t sleep together anymore, remember? We’re just friends.”

“Friends with bennies?”

“No, friends without bennies.”

“I’ll sleep with you and do other things too,” said Zach.

“Na,” said Barb. “You’re not cozy.”

“Aww shucks,” said Zach. “That’s what they always say.” Zach had no fat on him. He couldn’t satisfy a grandma in her grave.

“We should move this iceberg out of the forest,” said Barb. “Get it under the sun on Main Street.”

“My granpappy gots a Bobcat,” said Zach. “We could rent her. She could haul this berg no problemo.”

“Why do you talk like that every time you bring up your grandfather?”

“Meth’s as good as cash to granpappy.”

“We’re in luck!” said Barb. “Ma cooks meth every Wednesday night with some of her church friends. We could trade meth for a run in the Bobcat.”

I wanted to kiss Barb, but my girlfriend’s frozen gaze was upon us. Not that she could see us, but who knows how it works. Subconscious eyes? I mean I know frozen things are still alive, but aren’t they also like not alive?

Barb climbed a tree to get a better view of her ma’s place in the trailer park. “Yep, I can see the vaporous cloud puffing out the chimney. Be back in a jiff.”

Barb spring-boarded off a branch, landed on top of the iceberg, jumped on my shoulders, took off my toque (Toque is the French usage [also in Canada {also in the Village of Adams}] for knit cap. Toque is pronounced tuke.), and pulled my hair. Barb always knew how to turn me on.

With the advantage of self-restraint I forced my almost-boner (“chub”) to retreat—by dropping a snowball down the front of my thermal undies—and with a composed and professional manner let Barb down gently, gave her fifteen plutonic pats on the shoulder, which meant please (times fifteen) go and get that effin meth.

#

Zach wore safety glasses and an orange neon vest while maneuvering the Bobcat. “What I need you folks to do is back away and please keep yourselves in safe distance. Me and this ole girl will take her to where she needs to be.”

“How many hers are there?” I said.

After a moments deliberation Zach said, “Six, if you count the mummy. Your girlfriend’s probably a her, and then add Barb, the Bobcat, iceberg, and Sabertooth.”

“Mammoth’s definitely a dude, but cold,” I said and laughed, but no one got the joke.

“I wonder if we should try and milk the sabertooth tiger?” asked Barb.

“I reckon we gots to get her pregnant first.”

“She could couple with Tony.” Tony was the local zoo’s tiger. Tony slept. Tony yawned. Tony had no balls.

Barb and I hopped on a blue-iced boulder and crouched like two cold frogs. Zach dropped the front bucket of the Bobcat, slid it under the iceberg, and then, after a crackle snap crippity-crack, separated it from frozen tundra.

Barb reached out her mitted hand to hold mine. Since my girlfriend was facing the other way I didn’t resist. I was thrilled to share this moment. Soon my girlfriend would be free from her frozen world permitting me to exclaim my love for her: to the people, to the animals, to the snow, to the sky, to the stars, to the moon and sun and even to the mundane objects like couches, carpets, chairs, tables, windows, walls, stairs, bookshelves, hatracks. I would shout it to the televisions and boomboxes and pagers and to Spike Lee and even to the silo that stood tall and rusty out in the frozen cornfield.

#

The following morning, we sat crisscross applesauce in front of the iceberg on Main Street. The sun wasn’t up yet, but we were too excited to sleep. Kept ourselves busy by trading our parents’ pills. In the end, I owned three Percocets, eight Risperidone’s (generic for Risperdal), and four Oxycodone.

We swallowed the pills, scaled the chamber of commerce, sang Mr. Tambourine Man, scaled down the brick and mortar, and then passed out in front of the Dragon Lord Pub.

When we awoke, we were surprised (dismayed) to find ourselves stuck inside the iceberg. Worst of all, my girlfriend was not with us. She was outside riding on the mammoths back, waving a blood red flag.

“Crud!” I cried.

“At least we still got Bobcat,” said Zach.

Sure enough, Zach was sitting in the Bobcat with a frozen grin on his freezing skinny face.

“I love you,” said Barb, she was holding my hand.

“Great, now everyone sees us,” I said. I didn’t want my girlfriend to get the wrong idea about me and Barb. Barb was a friend. No benefits in our friendship, only pats on the back and help with homework.

Adding to the humiliation was the sabertooth tiger licking the ice near my crotch. There was nothing I could do about it, just stand there while the cars swerved around gawking at my wicked hot girlfriend riding the mammoth. She was getting so worked up she took off her mitts and her coat and her toque. She wore a pink tank top. Her hair was down around her shoulders. Jeans with a brown belt with a small silver belt buckle in the shape of a heart.

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JP Vallières is from the Village of Adams. His work can be found in Santa Monica Review, Juked, Winter Tangerine and a forthcoming issue of The Talking Book. He lives in northern Idaho with Kimmy.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: The Drone Infant

by: Zoltán Komor

My wife wants a baby, but I’d prefer a remote control drone with HD Wi-Fi camera, so I figure out an intermediate solution: I’ll knock up my wife, let her give birth to the child, and after a couple of weeks, when she gets bored with this whole motherhood thing (because yeah, I know her too well, it will come to that real soon), I’ll build a drone out of the infant.

Okay, I’ll admit, maybe I should have told my wife a tiny bit about this little plan of mine because she doesn’t seem too enthusiastic when one day she finds me in the child’s room above the bloody crib, sawing down one-month-old tiny Tim’s bald little head with all my strength and a sharpened electric bread knife. But I believe she’ll get over it soon—true, she locked herself in the wardrobe two days ago, yelling and screaming inarticulately, and yes, she’s still in there, hiding between the clothes. But a few hours ago she stopped making those ugly, gurgling sounds. In fact, she’s quite quiet now, so she doesn’t bother me so much that I can’t focus on properly boiling the bones of little Tim on the gas stove in a big bowl of water. The smell of meat broth fills the kitchen. The whirling bones in the bowl are soon stripped of the softening flesh. Pale little organs rise to the bubbly surface—the stomach emerges too and pops open like a giant pimple, leaking my wife’s morning breast milk into the boiling liquid. I realize I should have disemboweled the baby. There’s really no need to cook his organs, but oh well, it’s no use crying over spilt milk. Using the infant’s two tiny palms and feet I make four little bone propellers, which I then attach to his thighs and upper arm bones. These run into the main structure, the drone body, that I fabricated from the child’s chest bones and round little skull. After this is done, I install a battery and the GPS inside the bone cabinet, cover the whole construction with the infant’s tender flayed skin, and then I crown his little head with a high resolution camera using a strong electric screwdriver. This whole procedure takes a day and a half, but it’s worth it: tiny Tim turns into a wonderful drone, so now I can film breath-taking HQ videos of our residential district from the air, and I can also make a few recordings of that sexy little nudist chick, who lives three floors above us, and always enjoys the sun on her balcony a la nude.

All right, all right, I know what you are thinking right now: surely I’m not the father of the year just because I sawed off my baby son’s head, and I use his tiny little corpse to spy on my own neighbor, but believe me, if you could see how nicely the little infant drone flies, you would be simply amazed that I’m the very first person who ever created one.

I feel like the king of the residential district as I let tiny buzzing Tim into the air, and I turn toward the laptop screen, where I can monitor everything that turns up in front of the drone’s lens. Soon the nude neighbor chick appears on my screen—yup, she’s there, lying on her deck chair, not wearing a bikini, her swollen tits gleaming from the suntan oil. But when she notices that a dead baby is flying above her, she starts to scream, grabs up a long broom leaned against the railing, and begins to hammer the airborne intruder.

I can’t imagine what kind of person is able to hit a one-month-old child with a broom. Anyway I maneuver tiny Tim back home with the remote control to assess the damages. Unfortunately, the crazy bitch managed to break off one of the baby’s propellers—I don’t know how I will explain to my wife that our son has lost one of his hands. But as it turns out, there’s no need to worry—when I break down the door of the wardrobe, I find her lying there dead. Somehow, she managed to tear out her long hair and strangle herself with it. I could have just thought that she always overreacts to everything, but as I look at her corpse, I squeeze out a few salty teardrops from my eyes. Then I dismember her body too. Well, not just like that of course—as it turns out cutting up a grownup is much harder work than chopping up a baby. An infant is so fragile, their bones are so soft, and while an electric bread knife is enough to make decent portions out of a baby, it just makes a bloody mess when it comes to a grownup body. So I use a fire axe, but it’s hard work, I can tell you. It takes hours and my arm and shoulders hurt like hell after I finish, but when I’m done, I portion the pieces into big bowls of water on the gas stove. My plan is to build a much, much bigger drone that cannot be scared away easily with a broom. That way I can record the hell out of that crazy slut’s sweaty little cunt.

After a few days, not only tiny Tim, but also my wife is flying and floating in the room. I’m watching my delightful family—they are so ethereal, airy and graceful, like beauteous bone-and-skin dragonflies. I feel like the king of the residential district as I let my buzzing loved ones into the air. Look at my hard-working little bees carrying the sweet pussy recordings to me like honey!

Well, the nudist chick isn’t too happy when she sees that this time not one but two dead people try to spy on her fucking ass. Her enormous tits sway left and right as she tries to attack my human drones with her broom. The thought that she could break my little son again raises an overwhelming anger-wave inside me that carries my brain away. Poor tiny Tim, I had to replace the missing propeller with some bones of my wife, but I won’t let that bitch hurt again my family, oh no! An idea suddenly pops into my mind, and I direct my wife’s drone-body against the girl and she hits the nudist bitch’s head real hard. The crazy whore takes a few unbalanced steps backward, but she doesn’t have time to hide because tiny Tim is there right behind her, and he crashes into her nape. This goes on for a while. My wife and my son keep bumping her in turns until the nudist slut can’t take it any longer and drops down to the balcony floor, which seemingly hasn’t been swept properly in a long time. Fucking whore. Blood oozes out of her damaged skull. I can already see what a neat little drone she’s going to be.

She’s here with us now. Her chopped-off and sewn-back tits draw her down a bit and make it a bit hard to control the whole flying whore-structure, but I think most men would agree with me: big boobs are far more important than aerodynamic stability. She became a real teat-drone, and when my wife doesn’t watch, I pour suntan oil on her giant breasts, and while I’m at it I begin to tease her cold nipples using my tongue. Unfortunately the wife-drone always buzzes around me, humming jealousy. But apart from this, we’re living a nice, quiet, cozy life. My little family drones croon around me happily. I’m their proud and fair queen bee. They record me from every angle, and when the sun goes down and the clouds turn into angry blood-blisters above the city, the dear skeleton drones like angels raise to the sky and begin to circle around the area with their gleaming lenses. They are searching for new drone components.

I’m the king of the residential district, the Big Brother, almost like God. Yes, I see them all, all the neighbors, all the trespassers, everyone. And I will not rest until I weave a spider web on the sky made of always-curious dead bodies.

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Zoltán Komor lives in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary. You can read more of his surreal bizarro fiction in Flamingos in the Ashtray: 25 Bizarro Short Stories, Tumour-djinn, Urethra Ballerina, and Turdmummy.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Y2K

by: Sean Noah Noah

Y2K came and went and pretty much everyone could agree that the world had ended, but nobody could figure out exactly how. Just days before, everything had seemed so certain: all the computers wouldn’t be able to change the dates correctly and they’d break down and take the public infrastructure with them. But the date passed and no, that wasn’t it. Something large and awful had happened, and civilization would never recover, that was for sure, but it seemed like everyone felt a different apocalypse break the world as the sun rose over a new millennium.

By midday January second, Alex and Annemarie were meeting by the water cooler of their old workplace, Alex dodging around the carpet in an effort to avoid the burned spots, Annemarie not even walking through the shattered front door. Neither of them drank any of the water. Annemarie claimed, as she leaned against the cooler, that it had been destroyed by the nuclear blast, like most of the building, and even if it were still standing it would be too contaminated with fallout to drink. She dressed head to toe in whatever rags she could find that looked safe, and she felt protected. Alex was bent over, sweating and wearing very little, saying that the plastic of the cooler had melted and the water had evaporated in the heat of the exploding sun. Jane Abbott pointed out from across the room, helpfully, that if the sun had exploded, he wouldn’t be alive to complain about it. Alex and Annemarie ignored her; both agreed she was dead.

Jane, for her part, was happy enough to be dead, and she went back home to tell Henry the good news. They were both dead, and they spent the coming months lying inert on their living room floor, big rigor mortis smiles on their faces, watching groups of bored teenagers matter-of-factly loot their house as their muscles atrophied.

Jake Edison, whose friends called him Eddie, was part of the fifth band to raid the Abbott residence, and he felt sorry for them. They were less people and more messes on the floor at that point. He asked his pals if he could turn them; he was pale and low on vitamin D because he’d spent no time out in the sunlight since the Y2K vampire apocalypse. His friends said sure, why not, and he bit each Abbott on the neck once, but they were long gone by then and he shrugged and said, mostly to himself, that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

People camped in their houses with guns and canned food, or came out of what they called rubble to share horror stories, but in the bigger cities, there was another group: the denialists, the naysayers, the Y2K truthers; the frustrated, confused, and angry who yelled at the world that they’d seen no apocalypse save the sudden transformation of all their friends into complete idiots. And as they marched through the streets with signs proclaiming YOU’RE NOT DEAD and GET BACK TO WORK, stepping over fissures and sinkholes like they didn’t exist, walking through fire and paying falling debris no mind, they were treated like the ravenous hordes of the undead. Or ignored.

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Sean Noah Noah is a writer, stand-up comic, and graphic designer living somewhere in the Northeast. Want more? Watch this comedy set on YouTube, read another story in PLUS+, or follow Sean on twitter @SeanNoahNoah.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: A Bag With Handles

by: Bert Stanton

All he wanted was a bag with handles. Just one large bag with two handles. Paper or plastic, didn’t matter. Big enough to fit the contents of the brown bag sitting on the checkout counter, almost filled to the top with enough food and assorted sundries to get a modern person through another week. The same brown bag that, if not put into a bag with handles, would prove too difficult to carry in one arm, while the other did God’s work; if God fumbled with house keys, showed transit passes to bus drivers, swiped right, and discretely scratched himself in public. That bag would dip and slip and dance and spill. Maybe even burst. Maybe at the bus stop, maybe on the bus itself. Maybe as he was sprinting towards the blinking walk sign on the other side of the dark, rainy, intersection filled with agitated and impatient honking. None of them would care. They just wanted to get home.

And he just wanted a bag with handles.

The cashier stared him down, smacked her gum, shot jaundiced rays of impatient disgust and heavy disdain at him through narrow eyes unable to care. Each smack smack smack of her gum became louder and louder and louder, her lips wetter and wetter and wetter. Every time he blinked, both the top and bottom lip swelled, as if someone stabbed them with a basketball pump and started furiously pumping away. Her breasts swelled too. So did her hips. And so did the cocked angle which she rested one hand on her hips, and continued to smack her gum at him.

“I would like a bag with handles.” he said, calm and flat. It wasn’t a difficult request.

“Ain’t got none.” she replied, each word enunciated with wet, smacking lips.

“Certainly you have to have at least one.” he replied.

“Nope.” she said, and for a brief moment, he wanted to grab the pen holding her piss poor dye job in place and stab her lips, her breasts, her hips, her thorax. Not in any mean or misogynistic way. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Put her out of her misery.

“Can I look around at the other registers?” the man asked. There were eleven other registers. None were open, but surely must be stocked. Surely one of them would have a two handled bag.

She shook her swelling head, and turned back to the register, to whatever occupied her thoughts when there were no other customers. Particularly nasty ones like him who would never take a no for an answer. Who thought they were gods of all creation over price labels, clearance items, and expired coupons.

“Can I speak to a manger?” he asked. The cashier didn’t turn around, just pointed one long, gnarled, overly manicured finger towards a young man with green hair standing at the end of the line of registers.

He looked too young and too frail to have any authority, yet his name tag read ASSISTANT CASHIER MANAGER. It also read BRAD.

“We are out of bags with handles.” Brad said, his words moldy with repetition.

“I need one, though. I need it for my groceries and sundries. I need it or I may not make it all the way home.”

“We are out of bags with handles.” Assistant Cashier Manager Brad repeated.

“Are there any in the back?” the man asked.

Brad’s head started to turn, then spin, around and around and around. 360 degrees to 720 to 1440, and on and on. With each turn, Brad’s head spiraled upwards, his neck an elongated screw, until the top of his head touched the high ceiling. His eyes bulged to the size of basketballs.

“WE ARE OUT OF BAGS WITH HANDLES” his dull, metallic voice boomed from the roof.

“This is not a difficult request.” The man who wanted nothing more than a bag with handles said. “I just need a bag with handles.”

But it was useless, and he knew it. Still, he pushed on.

“Give me a bag with handles.” he said, and then said it again. It quickly became a droning chant, each repetition blowing his body outward, as if someone stuck the hose of an air compressor into his left ear and let it rip. His body ballooned up and out, up and out, up and over the cash registers and any merchandise or people that got in his way. Soon he was face to face with Brad, both madder than the heat of a thousand suns.

The roof broke apart, as their metamorphosis into A CHEAP LO-FI KNOCK OFF OF 1970S RODAN and ASSISTANT CASHIER MANAGER BRAD ONLY NOW MUCH LARGER neared completion. They hovered over the building in the light of a clear, full moon, each trying to remember which secret Japanese government laboratory originally spawned their embryos.

NORAD mobilized the Air National Guard, but the pilots stopped off en route for a pool party at a secret government laboratory atop Mount Hood. This one was a United States government laboratory, and unlike the Japanese they learned long ago to not fuck around with dinosaur DNA, to just leave it alone. After all the United States has Lt. Colonel Jeff Goldblum on their side to warn them of such irresponsible dangers. Just stick to chemical and electronic warfare, ya dinguses. It’s a lot less likely your country will be trampled by an annoying lizard god. The pilots drank and laughed and tried to remember how much sexual assault was allowed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

When A CHEAP LO-FI KNOCK OFF OF 1970S RODAN and ASSISTANT CASHIER MANAGER BRAD ONLY NOW MUCH LARGER finally collided, the ensuing mushroom cloud could be seen as far as Tacoma, Washington, and leveled the ten blocks surrounding the store, which was super convenient for the city planners who were trying to hurry up gentrification in the area.

Anywho, that’s why the Freddie’s on 82nd and Foster is now closed.

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Bert Stanton lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: The Friend We Made

by: James Burr

He danced in the dry ice, his limbs staccato-jerking in the strobes. He’d cleared a space for himself and was dancing on the spot, breathing heavily through his nose and mouth, his eyes glazed and staring blankly ahead. “I’m dancing, I’m dancing,” he kept repeating as he danced and danced. Around him, sweating clubbers pointed and whooped and high-fived him, this consummate dancer, as the beat rattled and the bass wobbled and dropped.

The next time I saw him was at a Rugby Club Ball, standing on a table, Harlequins jersey stained with curry, leading a drunken rendition of Father Abraham, Stella Artois spilling and splashing those who stood around him, laughing and cheering. At the end of each line he thrust his hips with a powerful snap, his cheering, ruddy-faced compatriots doing the same, following this seeming best friend to all, as they slapped him on the back and cheered and roared their drunken approval.

I spoke to one of his friends later at the end of the evening, after the lights had come up and the bar had mostly emptied save for some stragglers trying to stay awake as they drank in small groups or a couple trying to finger new girl friends in the shadows. He could barely focus and was slumped on a table, the sleeves of his blazer sodden with beer, but despite my describing the man in detail and saying what he had been doing all evening, one of this man’s seeming core group of friends had no idea who I was talking about, my questions only prompting vague recollection of someone being there but nothing more.

But then I saw more of him after that. At demonstrations outside the Student Union, his hair dyed purple, surrounded by cheering social justice warriors who applauded his railing against the patriarchy, and at poetry evenings, clad in tweed and thick-rimmed specs, his verse received with standing ovations before he then retired to the café where he held court to the assembled poets and performance artists and spoke of the merits of repetition, word play and the importance of oral storytelling. Occasionally, I’d see him out of the corner of my eye, walking around a corner surrounded by an adoring group of chavs, baseball cap on his head and can of White Lightning in hand or entering a Metal club, all in black, illegible band logo on his T-Shirt, and always, always the centre of attention, effortlessly the leader of the group, clearly the best friend to all.

Sometimes, I’d speak to these people about him, sometimes only moments after he’d left, but they could only vaguely recall him, just remembering a few details, a tinge of an accent, a mannerism, an odd recollection that someone had indeed been there. No-one seemed to know him; no-one knew who he was yet whenever I saw him, he was always the centre of attention, the focal point of that social group.

So I wasn’t that surprised when the next time I saw him was when I went to a friend’s house for a quiet smoke. As I opened the door to the living room, through a hashish haze I saw him holding court, expertly skinning up as he mumbled about his travels to Tibet and his experiences of various drugs, my friends relaxed with his company and enraptured with his conversation. And I watched him through the evening, this consummate Head, as he expertly selected the music, Floyd then Orb then ambient trance, as my friends mumbled their approval at his selections. But as the night progressed, my limbs grew heavy and my head filled with warm cotton wool, the others slowly went home or shuffled upstairs until I was finally left alone with him, the first time I’d seen him outside of a group.

We sat slumped on the floor as the ambient wash pulsed and throbbed around us and as for a moment I think I saw a look of panic pass across his face as he realized we were alone. Then he turned to me, his face an exact mirror of my own. I wanted to ask him who he was, how he seemed to know everyone, be liked by everyone. But my mouth was dry and I could feel myself sinking into unconsciousness. As I closed my eyes, I thought I heard him say, “I’m not sure I want to find myself….”

 

When I woke up the next day, I found his “body”, if you want to call it that, on the floor where I had last seen him. Lying on the carpet amidst the full ashtrays and fragments of discarded cardboard was a man-shaped transparent vessel, a brittle glass container, empty and dead.

His hollow frame shattered into a thousand fragments when I threw it into the bin outside, and when my friends slowly surfaced, rubbing their eyes and shuffling to the kitchen to make mugs of hot tea, like everyone else, none could remember him or even recall his name.

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An English writer of dark, humorous, paranoiac fiction, James Burr is the author of Ugly Stories for Beautiful People and is working on a novel titled Razor Moccasins. You can follow him on Twitter and find more of his stories here.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: Job Offer on Seventh Heaven

by: Martin Rutley

It was late, Saturday night, when they brought me in. Strapped to a stretcher, disinfectant smeared into the corners of my eyes, the smell of petroleum in their greasy sideburns. Dressed in the green and gray of the company uniform, each of the six had joyously taken his turn at the head of the pack. They fired off their questions, one after the other, their voices all baby talk and laughter—Who cut your gooky fucking hair? How’s your pancreas feel about the pre-cancerous cells in your liver? Is that Benzo Fury in your bloodstream? Are you aware those idiots at the CIA can’t work so much as a soda machine? Did you know Andromeda’s fucking Ryan from data capture? What kind of schmuck reads Asimov with a hairbrush in his ass? This wasn’t a dissection of what it was made me tick—they didn’t give a shit about the ins and outs of a rodent like me—this was an institution at play, a muscle, uneasy at rest, flexing itself.

I was beaten into the early hours of the morning. A solid workout for the boys on night shift. Each put in his fair share, no slacking or slipping out for a quick cigarette in the reading room—these boys were keen. Of the six, Hunter’s blows landed hardest. He continued long after the others had had their fill. He ended with a particularly brutal strike to the base of the spine—The Hunter Ray Heel Kick, he’d christened it—a signature maneuver none of the others had attempted. Several of them had marveled at his movement—the fluidity of force from deltoid to extensor, the anatomical precision inherent in a curving knee strike to the hepatic duct of a functioning liver. Finally, I was stripped to the waist and given a near-lethal dose of Seventh Heaven, a well-known ventromedial manipulator and driver of grunt warfare since 2037.

“Side effect city,” someone yelled. “Hold on to your DNA.”

“Hold on to your cahoonas,” yelled another.

As he’d spoken, the electrons in the heavy elements of my body abandoned their orbits and I collapsed into a pre-biological soup of ionized hydrogen. I reemerged a nanosecond or so later and pulled on the trigger of a .45 jammed against the roof of my mouth.

“Bang,” yelled Hunter, and the others erupted into what my ex-wife would have described as spasms of ‘screw you’ laughter.

He knelt with uncanny grace and pressed his face into mine. “Makes you cry for Mommy, don’t it?” he whispered.

Later, the others filed silently from the room—not separately, but as one—hairless mandibles held high in the air.

Hunter must have been a hundred feet tall. Had he wanted, he could have ground me into the earth and joined the others for baked lobster fideo or whatever it was these people ate. He assured me he was a killer of some reputation. He’d risen through the ranks of the corporation due to a willingness to do what others wouldn’t. I gave him everything with a candor I hadn’t known I possessed—a complete schematic of my habits and tendencies, end of the world codes, exit points, atom hacks, bombs strapped to the underside of elephants in crowded malls at Christmas—children tugging at their leathery ears, time holes, reset procedures, insert generators—I betrayed everyone and everything dear to me.

Hunter applauded and folded into a smile that pulled at the lids of his eyes. “These elephants, Mr. Lewis, do they exist?”

“If I shut off the TV once in a while, they would.”

“Describe them.”

“Inserts,” I said. “Harvested from interstellar space and nano-engineered to resist all known modes of interrogation—terrestrial or otherwise. Exquisite animals.”

“Including the Abdominal Slap?”

“Yes, sir—in more than a thousand documented simulations.”

“Belief systems?”

“Hardwired accordingly.”

“Defection rates?”

“Zero.”

He crouched, scooped me into his hand, and raised me level with his enormous face. Were he to swallow me whole, I’d sit in his small intestine and drift into in a telepathic union.

A single, giant tear descended his cheek. “I want a million of those things.”

I stood and extended my arms perpendicularly in search of at least minimal balance. “I’ll need a quantum entangler, a hundred billion dollars, identity reconstruction, and five hundred thousand square feet of prime off-planet real estate.”

He pursed his lips and blew, rotating his wrist as he did so. I fell into his palm and grabbed at the base of his pinky finger. His hand upturned, I hung helplessly and waited for him to speak.

“Little man, we’re going to save your life,” he said.

He’d spoken carefully, rigidly—as though repeating words previously reordered and rehearsed in his mind. Perhaps the Seventh Heaven was talking, but there was compassion in those dark, cavernous eyes and I couldn’t wait to begin.

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Martin Rutley lives in Manchester, UK. His short fiction has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Pedestal Magazine, Locus Novus, The Fortean Bureau, Vestal Review, and Raven Chronicles. He also makes films—some disturbing, some batshit crazy. You can stream Amnesiac on Amazon.

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