Chance Meeting

Flash Fiction FridaysThe gas ran out somewhere around the 157 km marker on… Which highway was this again? I really couldn’t remember. I thought that I’d crossed the border somewhere around New Brunswick, but I’d been driving so long that I wasn’t sure where I was anymore. It really didn’t matter. All that really mattered was that it was time to walk.

“Time to go, buddy,” I whispered to the sleeping child in the back of the SUV. As I undid the straps from around the little boy’s chest and legs I lamented that I was going to have to leave the baby seat behind. It was just too heavy to drag along, so I strapped the baby into the carrier that barely fit around my chest (Do they even design these things for men?) and snatched up the blood-spattered diaper bag before I went.

It was hours before I finally came upon a town again, and with the town came the dead. I glared warily at the bodies that lay strewn throughout, rotting in the sun. It had been almost a month and a half since the undead had suddenly collapsed and finally become dead dead, but I still felt like they were going to jump up and tear into me at any moment. I didn’t think I would ever be able to trust a dead body ever again.

The baby was starting to squirm and squeal so I quickly mixed up the last of the formula and placed the bottle in his tiny hands. He sucked away greedily, and I sincerely prayed that I would be able to find more formula in this town before he got hungry again. This little guy had been through enough. I still had nightmares about the moment I snatched him from his stroller, mere seconds before his bloody-eyed mother had snapped her fleshy jaw down on top of him. I didn’t think I would have been able to go on if I hadn’t made it in time. And so now he was mine, for better or worse, though I hadn’t been able to bring myself to name him yet.

I was pondering this, this most simple of parental decisions, when I saw her: a woman walking toward me in the street. My heart stopped as quickly as my feet as visions of torn flesh and missing limbs flashed in front of my eyes. But in that second moment I realized that she had stopped and was staring at me as well. She was very clutching a young child in her arms and was very clearly pregnant, and I honestly didn’t think I’d ever seen anyone so beautiful in all my life.

We moved slowly toward each other at first, then more quickly, and though we hadn’t moved enough distance to be out of breath we were both breathing hard.

“You’re a survivor,” I said foolishly, my heart hammering.

“You too,” she replied, grinning ear to ear.

And that was the first time that I genuinely believed that, somehow, some way, it was going to be okay.

Night Terrors

Flash Fiction Fridays

Kaitlyn woke in the dark. In that first moment she panicked, for she could hardly move, but then she realized that she had somehow squeezed herself underneath her parents’ bed. She had no idea how she’d gotten there.

She twitched and squirmed to work her way out from the confining space, and in her movement her fingers found a cylindrical object. Intrigued and confused, she fumbled with the object until she found a switch and the underside of the bed lit up like the crack of dawn. A flashlight, she thought to herself. What’s this doing under here? What am I doing under here?

She had almost worked her way out from under the bed when something out of the ordinary caught her eye. The floor didn’t look right. The patch of hardwood that she was wiggling toward was the wrong color. It almost looked like…

Kaitlyn bit her lip and tried not to cry out, but she couldn’t help the little squeak that escaped her lips.

That looks like blood.

She changed directions and squirmed toward the end of the bed rather than the side, and when she finally escaped she had to force herself to look around the room.

The floor on her mother’s side of the bed was painted with red, and the bedsheets on both sides looked as though they’d been soaked in it.

Kaitlyn backed away from the bed, a scream barely held back by the hand she’d raised to her mouth. It wasn’t until she banged into the dresser behind her that she realized there was something sticking out of her back pocket. She felt it pressing into her back – the edged blade slick with sticky red – but she couldn’t look at it, wouldn’t look at it.

Kaitlyn sunk to the floor, switched off the flashlight, and lay down in the dark.


Flash Fiction Fridays

It was very loud inside the plant.

“Double Hearing Protection Required” read the signs that seemed to be posted every ten feet or so. “Noise Levels Exceeding 85 db”

Good, the woman thought to herself.

She walked past equipment that she couldn’t name – complicated mechanisms attached to motors as big as her entire car, and small blue devices with digital readouts that meant absolutely nothing to her. All along every wall were stainless steel cabinets emblazoned with strings of letters and numbers, along with bright red stickers that warned: “DANGER! Energized Equipment”.

She could almost admire the miles of pipework intimately woven together and traveling from room to room, carrying their fare. “Gland Water” said the large sticker on one. “HP Steam” read another. She idly wondered what the “HP” stood for and decided that “Steam” was information enough. On a whim she reached out her fingers to touch this particular pipe and immediately snatched her hand back. So hot.

And so loud. She had no earplugs, no industrial earmuffs like the picture that accompanied the noise level warnings. Her entire head rang with the continuous pulse and hum of motors and pumps, high voltage electricity, and the rush of product through pipes. She thought it very likely that she would sustain damage to her hearing if she remained here much longer, but she paid the thought no mind. She hadn’t yet found what she was looking for.

So she continued on, feeling rather than hearing the click of her heels against the cement floors as she walked. She went past sewer grates belching puffs of putrid-smelling steam, past nests of cables that seemed to snake off in every direction, and past enormous, pressure-driven valves that slammed shut so violently they could easily slice man’s hand clean off.

That thought made her smile.

It wasn’t long after that, on the third floor of the building, that she found them. All three were a filthy mess, their fur covered with dirt and matted with thick red fluid. The oldest was licking his claws clean while the two younger batted a blood-soaked hard-hat back and forth.

“No bits left at all,” the woman observed with a tap of her foot. “You must have been hungry.”

Though the din of the plant was enough to deafen a man, the three siblings heard her soft voice and gazed up at her with sheepishness in their black eyes.

All she could do was smile and crook a finger at them. “Time to go home, children,” she cooed. “And be thankful that no one could have heard him scream.”

I’ve Been Wrong Before

Flash Fiction FridaysThe world seemed to stop the moment he walked in the room. The red-cheeked bar patrons seemed to fade away around me, and the slightly off-tune notes of the cover band became nothing more than a whisper. My ears felt as though they were filled with cotton. My heart skipped not one, but several beats. I couldn’t stop staring at him, at the strong line of his stubble-covered jaw, the wave of his shaggy brown hair, and the playful glint in his ice-blue eyes.

And he was staring right back at me.

A frat boy waving a twenty-dollar bill was trying to get my attention, but I scarcely even noticed him. My coworker shouted at me as I stepped out from behind the bar, leaving him to deal with the thirsty crowd, but I didn’t even hear him. I was drawn to him, unable to stop myself from elbowing my way through the crowd to get to him. For a heartbeat I lost sight of him, but as I pushed past a rowdy bachelorette party I discovered that he had been moving toward me as well.

We came face to face and stopped. He was a head taller than me, and he smelled like the rainforest. Without thinking about what I was doing – unable to think at all – I reached up and stroked the rough shadow on his chin. His hand found the back of my neck and sent my heart into a flutter. Before I knew it his lips found mine; a gentle kiss, but one vibrating with passion.

As he pulled back from the kiss I struggled to find my voice. “Do you believe in love at first sight?” I whispered.

His voice came back to me, soft and delicious, like melted caramels: “No, but I’ve been wrong before.”