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Flash Fiction Friday: The Thinking Man’s Bicycle

by: Chris Meekings

It is barely coin o’clock in the morning,
and the bourbon has only just taken the taste of Pepsodent from my mouth
when she walks into my office.
She’s glass and alabaster,
with curves in all the right places,
liquorice nice.
She walks across the room, her heels clicking like a cricket on death row.
I listen.
She tells me she has a problem.
I tell her it will cost her a pretty penny,
She pulls out an ugly penny and I take that instead.
Beggars can’t be choosers, especially with the price of flutes these days.
She says her name is Gia,
which should have told me everything I needed to know about the case,
but I was broke and she was in trouble
and I’m a sucker for a dame.
I offer her a chair.
I pour a drink
even though the sun has barely spat over the horizon.
I try to split my face to hide who I am,
but it doesn’t come off,
and I end up looking like a game-show host with too much time on his hands.
I take out a ruler,
and crack it in two.
I put one half in my bourbon and stir.
Mmmmm, length.
She tells me her husband has vanished,
and her brother is in Sing Sing for a stretch
so she’s turned to me for help.
Lucky me.
Equations danced around her head,
and my abacus strikes attention.
I take her case,
and put it in the closet.
I tell her I’ll be in touch.
I’m a good guy to have around
when the chips go down and the tables go up.
A real white knight.
You shouldn’t drink hard on an empty stomach.
The bar is the kind of dive that charges you extra when the lights go down.
I go to the wood, and order a drink.
It comes with a shovel full of dirt, owl pellets and napkin to wipe the blood away.
I dip my other half of ruler in it,
and survey the scene.
The bar is dark and wearing sunglasses.
Midgets flit from table to table,
asking for green wine and molasses.
Nobody has any.
I crack an egg on the bar.
It sizzles to fried
sunny-side-up.
None of this makes the boot polish blacker,
so I ask some questions.
“How did you get here?”
“Which way to Amarillo?”
“Do you know where the Falcon is?”
The Nazis in the corner “Seig Heil”,
but no one else pays attention.
Outside the bicycle bell rings,
and De Bergerac sniffs the glue.
Of course, someone’s in the know.
I swallow my finger nails,
and wait patiently
for the case to unfold.
It doesn’t take long,
Gia knows who’s to blame,
I rip off my moustache and trench coat,
No one can say I didn’t try to get out.
The fire licks up the side of bar in salacious wafts,
and the bicycle bell rings again,
but the patrons pay it no mind.
They staple down the fire to stop it spreading.
I pull out my revolver
and point it at the drink.
It’s always the ones you suspect the least who hurt you the most.
The bourbon tries to make a break for it,
but my gun sings, and the bourbon has to listen.
It’s transfixed by the music,
distracted, it falls from the bar.
Clatter-tinkle on the floor.
Thank god, I’m wearing my galoshes.
The bicycle bell rings once more,
and I make notes on Mahatma Gandhi’s treatises.
Thank god, it was only a thinking man’s bicycle.

________

Chris Meekings lives in the city of Gloucester in the UK. If you’d ever been to Gloucester you’d understand why he sits inside and makes things up. He’s the author of the bizarro novella Elephant Vice (Eraserhead Press) and the metaphysical fantasy novel Ravens and Writing Desks (Omnium Gatherum). He is still 58 weasels in a trench coat, just looking for love.

________

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


Flash Fiction Friday: 2015 New Bizarro Authors, Pt. 1

For this week and the next two Flash Fiction Friday will exhibit excerpts of The New Bizarro Author Series for 2015.


Rainbows Suck by Madeleine Swann (Buy It Now!)

The doors exploded open, neon pinks, purples and blues bursting onto the streets and the skin of those waiting. The others cheered, but Tilli remained quietly determined. A rainbow glided into the doorway.

“Friends, neighbours, welcome to Sensus Invictus. Step in and feel your boundaries shatter…” he stepped aside and everyone scurried in, taking seats on either side of a clean, white runway. Tilli elbowed her way to the front of the left side, if she could just remain in view of the rainbows swirling about the ceiling and walls, occasionally disappearing backstage…

A vortex appeared at the end of the runway, swirling furiously. The audience gasped in shocked delight. “Ladies and gentlemen,” boomed a voice neither male nor female, “welcome to the first ever Live Art Extravaganza!” The people cheered and so did Tilli, the excitement spreading like an infectious disease. The first Art, a man with a golden quiff stretching almost to the ceiling, stepped out from behind the screens. The onlookers oohed as he strode to the end of the runway, narrowly missing the vortex which waited hungrily for him. His hair shot out and grabbed a woman’s handbag and she squealed in mock protest. His mane rolled it about for a few seconds before spitting it back into her arms, now covered in attractive sequins. He stomped back to a loud applause.

A girl now appeared, her dark skin almost like velour. In fact, when Tilli squinted, she saw it was velour. It seemed at first as if her coat jiggled as she walked, but Tilli it was writhing independently. A few faces peered out and stretched the fabric before sinking away into dark blue nothingness, whereupon more faces took their place. “Oh darling,” said a woman to a man sitting next to her, “that’s the coat of souls I read about in Tittles. Isn’t it divine?”

“Simply divine,” was the response. Tilli glanced about, sweat prickling her temples. Time was moving on, why hadn’t they noticed her? Maybe she could approach them at the end…

Another Art stepped onto the runway, making his way to the vortex and summoning The Dark One before turning to head back. The next Art appeared from behind the screen. The first, on shoes taller than a young man, wobbled and the crowd uniformly breathed in. The second Art began stomping towards him so as not to lose time, but the first was falling slowly, gracefully, into maw of the whirlpool. All eyes were on him, nobody saw the second Art desperately twirling and cartwheeling to get their attention. The first was sucked down into oblivion and, before anybody had a chance to scream, the second exploded in a shower of glitter and rainbows which stained the white runway. Both men and women screamed as loudly as they could and several fur covered watchers fell dramatically to the floor, though of course one eye flickered to their companions to make sure they were watching.


Towers by Karl Fischer (Buy It Now!)

We were Towers and we shattered the sky.

We were three hundred meters tall, anchored to the bedrock on mammoth monopile roots. We were carbide skeletons on which steel and lead and graphene plastic matrices were layered to form oblique, unbreakable skin. But most of all, we were the Gods of Fire and War and Thermonuclear Destruction. When we unleashed Atomic Hounds upon the night’s void, every kingdom shuddered and every mortal knew why we were built.

We were Towers.

But we had one weakness: those that lived inside us.

They thought I couldn’t feel them walking in the corridors of my marrow and the ventricles of my heart. The human germs crawling and feeding and fucking—sometimes fixing and reloading—but always, always scratching. They caused me to look inward. They did nothing but distract me from the fight.

I was human once, and I remember that it was miserable. Prejudice, anxiety, want—the hallmarks of my short existence. I lived without certainty. But there was certainty in steel. There was certainty in the exhaust of a newly launched missile and the white, celestial explosion that its terminus brought. There was certainty in Quatra.

The time I spent being human was good for only one purpose—to meet Quatra, the singular cog that would mesh with my own.

Alone, we were overwhelmed by the lizard gestalt of our brains. Brought together, we made of ourselves a functional mechanism. We had a use for all our meltwater emotions. Death, however, reminded us that love did not exist in its stygian paradise. Death could walk, and it arose from the ocean to make war upon the last human cities. In those dying days of civilization, the Towers were built to defend what remained.

So long ago.

Requisition called for people to operate the Towers and we volunteered. Shed the flesh, fight for a thousand years, and in return, be admitted unto the Afterlife. What was a millennium compared to an eternity with Quatra? To be without separation, without sorrow or fear, I would pay any price.

I counted down the days.

A thousand years gone.

But these humans. These viral dwellers. I could feel them inside me, as they were in every Tower, and the sensation repelled certainty. What were they doing to me? I fought with everything I had. What more could they want?

It was my rest period of Day 365,241, my last day of service. I dreamt that Quatra and I were parasites in our own skin, and we were ravenous. We cannibalized muscles of polymer and concrete and went deep into the organ meat of our power plants. We were vermin crawling in cavernous spaces that were wet with blood, yet smelled of dust. Our real bodies, the spires, were dead. The planet was a necropolis and our enemies loomed overhead, breathing hellfire and pulsing clouds of devastation. We could do nothing but weep at the basework of our titanic hearts. We couldn’t even hold each other because we didn’t know how.

Then I woke up screaming.


Elephant Vice by Chris Meekings

The captain’s office was small. A desk fan buzzed in one corner, with ticker-tape streaming in its breeze. The morning sun crashed through the window in an orange torrent and struck the poster of the kitten hanging from a branch. “Hang In There, Baby”. The captain slammed the door closed behind Detective Vincent Van Gogh.

“Sit down,” he commanded.


Captain Horrald Smalling was a short, squat man, covered in thick brown hair and the labels of beer bottles he’d drunk in the past week. His jacket was off the peg, off his shoulders and slung unheroically over the back of his walrus leather chair. The sleeves of his shirt, which depicted nudes from around the world, were rolled up. Two dark sweat patches had formed under his arms, even though it was only nine in the morning.

“Captain,” questioned Van Gogh, “didn’t you used to have two ears?”

The Captain, self consciously lifted a hand to the side of his face. Where his left ear should have been was a bare patch of skin, no scar, no blood, no hole, just barren skin.

“You’re right, Van Gogh. I woke this morning to find that gone. And worse, there were signs of a break in. Some bastard forced his way into my apartment and stole my ear.”

“That’s….that’s weird,” said Van Gogh, lamely.

“Enough about that, I got a case for you, Van Gogh,” he spat from around the blunt stogie in the corner of his mouth, “a big one. Mayor’s son was found turned into a sofa this morning.”

Van Gogh ran his fingers through his hair and down to his beard. His ear had been right, it was trouble.

“Another **** head?” he questioned.

“Yeah, some new drug cartel has moved in, ****’s been hitting the streets. So, you’re up, Van Gogh. Investigate. Find the bastards that are dealing it, and bring ’em in,” snarled the captain.

Van Gogh scoffed. “Captain, no one has a greater opinion of my abilities than I do, but even I don’t think I can take on a whole cartel.”

The captain’s eyes sparkled with mischief.

“Well, that’s lucky. ‘Cause you won’t be doing it alone. You’ll be doing it with a partner. Ganesha! Get in here!” he bellowed.

The door opened and Detective Ganesha came in, in a cloud of musk and flies. Dressed in an Armani cream suit, Ganesha stood seven feet tall from his dapper white brogues to the top of his massive elephant head. His trunk curled around the door handle and swung it shut behind him. He held, in one of his four hands, a pen knife, which he flicked open and closed as if it were a nervous habit.

“Namaste, detective,” said Ganesha, putting two of his hands together and giving a slight incline of his huge head. “I am most looking forward to working with you.”

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” said Vincent Van Gogh, eyeing the Hindu deity up and down. Deep and dark, like an abyssal trench, Van Gogh felt the ground beneath him slip away. “Captain, no. You know me. I work alone. I do not work with people, let alone elephants.”

A frown crept across Ganesha’s face.


Flash Fiction Friday: A Fit In Acts

by Chris Meekings

The curtain opens.

The fairies in the audience rustle restless in their seats. They eat sticks of marzipan, noisily.

Lights up.

Enter an announcer. He’s dressed in a full black suit. His hair is immaculate and plastered down to his skull with soup.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he intones, reading from a thin script which wafts in a breeze that comes from someplace.

“We were to have started with act 1 scene 1. However, since this has been deemed misogynistic and degrading, we will start with act 3 scene 4. Which, as it now appears first, will be called act 1 scene 1, making a grand total of act 4 scene 5.”

ACT 4 SCENE 5

The same afternoon. Enter a room into a man.

“Ouch,” he says, having never had a room enter him before.

And so the world proceeds according to its weigh. The Earth spins, the clouds of noxious sausage gas form. The rain rains, and the pixies try to make shoes for you whilst you sleep.

The man is still confused by the room entering him.

“That’s never happened before,” he says, opening the door in himself.

“Shut that fucking door,” says the goblin within.

The goblin is small and green, with ears that point sideways like ice-cream cones stuck to side of its head.

“Get out,” says the man, gesticulating with his thumb, “this is my chest cavity. You don’t have permission to be in there.”

The goblin gets up from its plushy armchair made from the man’s liver.

“Nonsense, my good man.” the goblin goes to an old bureau and fumbles within.

The man feels a slight nauseous sensation as the goblin riffles through the bureau. His penis becomes erect.

“Here,” says the goblin, producing a sheet of bricks. “There, written in bricks. Colin the goblin can live here.” The goblin, called Colin, points to the bricks.

The man takes the bricks and reads the cement. It does indeed say the Colin has a legal right to live in the man’s chest.

“Well, I never,” says the man.

“Finished?” asks the goblin. “Close the blood door. You’re letting all the bile out.”

The audience fairies laugh at the joke.

The man shuts the door. He has no idea what to do next.

ACT 2 SCENE 3

A different position.

Did you know you don’t have a right to water? Or life? Or love? Or liberty? These are all things made up. We just agree about them. You don’t even have a right to expect the story to make sense. It won’t. Better get used to that idea.

The world turns and the dandelion clocks tick on. Trees rut in the hedgerows. When you have hay-fever, that’s trees ejaculating up your nose. When you eat nuts, you’re eating infant trees and plants. They scream when you bite down.

And the fairies cry.

The grass blows in the wind, the wind which whips across the face of the world. The wind has been everywhere, it’s seen it all. Navies labouring to make iron railways to scar the landscape. Kings and queens eating blackbird pie. Fairs and churches and people, people, people. People at parties wearing masks to hide who they are, which reveals who they really are.

The man walks on, through the dying sunlight on an autumn afternoon, kicking dead leaves with his old dusty boots. He won’t find what he’s looking for. She will never come back, that whore with the dyed hair the colour of red flames. He will miss her forever, but she will not return. All he has is his old photographs and bifocal memories. Memories of the tumble and sweat between the cotton sheets in her room. The love and the thrust and the copper taste of her skin.

All that is gone now, as he walks and kicks the fallen leaves in the autumn light. The wind bites his hands numb. He clenches them, as he once did around her throat, as she came hard.

He cries, full of the loss of her. And words spill from him like water.

“I miss you. I love you. I want you, forever.”

But, she doesn’t reply. And the trees sway and spill their seeds and leaves at his feet.

He takes his thin-bladed knife from his pocket. It is old and angry and has grey string wrapped around the handle. He pulls the blade free and cuts a deep groove across his forearm.

The blood floods up, bubbles up, from below. He lets it drip, drip, drip down into the mess of leaves at his feet.

And the fairies cry.

ACT 5 SCENE 1

Midnight in the garden.

The soft owl howls at the moon. The hedgehogs snuffle in the eaves, and the bats dig their holes.

The graveyard is quiet as the two lovers meet. They are naked. Their skin is pale and goose-flesh prickles over them. They lie on the graves of scholars and vicars and fuck to keep themselves alive.

He touches her breast, and she sighs. She holds his head and then wrenches it free. He smiles. She licks the stump of his neck and he sighs to feel so alive.

The fairies watch on, disgusted yet still masturbating.

The clock strikes 23 and half minutes past 2. Time is important. Neither of the lovers wish to be late.

So they fuck on, in earnest. Pale backsides to the moonlight. And the owl howls.

ACT 1 SCENE 2

The happiness rats tap dance on the bar. The drinkers watch and applaud their cleverness..

They lift their pints of gasoline and quaff to the merry dancers.

Small dogs bark and bite at the heels of the drinkers, wanting their attention. But the rats are entrancing.

The piper walks amongst the crowd, unseen.

He places thin hands inside the pockets of all the patrons. Stealing their wares and chattels, milk and green sunlight.

He places his stolen prizes in his knapsack made from kisses and mist. And the rats dance on.

The pipers turns sideways and falls through the cracks in the floor. Down, down, down to the sewers. He meets the sad sewer babies there. They are pale, and fat like grubs. Blind in all their eyes. They cry and mewl amongst the sewer stench, and ask how did they get here?

The piper plays songs on a tin whistle, and the babies slowly drop to sleep amongst the sewer grunge and grot.

Newspapers flow down the stream of effluence near the babies. The piper reads the headlines “world at war”, “war at world”, “never again tell a lie”. It makes no sense to the piper. Who cares about world affairs?

He unscrews his kneecaps and takes out the brandy. He drinks, long and deep. Filling his belly with the fire liquid.

He belches long and hard.

The fairies watch on, wishing they could help and alleviate the suffering of the world. They cannot. They are just spectators.

Drip drip drip, the sad ticking of the sewer clock.

ACT 3 SCENE ?

The stochastic punch of the typewriter. W B 69 T F G.

Drat! This typewriter cannot spell. I pull the skin from my fingers looking for a thesaurus and spell checker.

The fairies watch. They applaud the effort, if not the actual attainment.

We all must atone for what we do. Leaving pain streaks down the messy highway of our lives. Deep dark tear tracks of acid spill from my eyes. And the gibberish words rip from my chest in emotional torrents.

I love you. I miss you. I wish I could have been better. I wish I was more of what you want, and less of what I am.

But that’s everyone’s wish, in the darkness of our own lonely single minds. Bedrooms, filled with books and CD’s and things we bought trying to fill the holes others have left.

The fairies clap harder now.

I do believe in humans. I do believe in humans.

The sun is almost at the horizon. About to crack and break, forming the new day. The curtains are far away, but I reach for them. They are old and tattered and moth-eaten and threadbare. I grab at the dust and pull.

I cough and spit and pull back the window. The air is cool and cathartic. It’s the time before people wake. The world is still. And the sun peaks up.

I can feel its warmth.

“Did we miss it?” the girl with the flame hair asks, nestled in the cooling sheets.

“No,” I say, hearts exploding from my chest. “we’re perfect.”

The fairies, clap and hoot and whistle as the curtain begins to close.

——

Chris Meekings is an amalgamation of 58 weasels in a trench-coat. He is currently hunted for sport in the county of Gloucester in the good old UK. In his spare time, between hunts, he writes things…terrible things….you probably shouldn’t read them….you won’t like them….he’s been writing since before he could spel. He still cannut spel.