Saturday, May 28, 2011
Flash Fiction Challenge: An Unexpected Guest
Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds has got another fun flash fiction challenge happening that's got me hooked like crack, making me cheat on my manuscript (something he's chastises us all about). But I've been sucked in. And well...what can I say, it's just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. The challenge is to write a 1000 word or less flash piece about "an unexpected guest"
An Unexpected Guest
by Julia Madeleine
“I think he’s dead,” Amy said, panting as she stared at the man who lay face down in the ravine.
His construction hat was askew from his greasy head, one leg bent in an unnatural position. He was a small, wiry man, and boy could he run. Amy cast her gaze around on the grass until she spied a long stick.
“Poke him with this, Jessie,” she said, and handed it to me. “See if he moves.”
“No, you do it, I’m not touching him.” I pushed the stick back toward her.
“Why should I do it? You do it.”
We stood arguing the way we usually did and I wondered why I continued to be friends with Amy when we fought just as much as we laughed. I supposed it was because she was my only friend and rather than spending the summer by myself, I continued to hang out with her. Besides, she could sneak cigarettes from her mother’s purse.
“What do you think happened to the old geezer?”
“I don’t know,” Amy said. “Maybe a heart attack.”
I stood with folded arms, my heart still racing from our pursuit through the field. I worried suddenly that someone might have witnessed what just transpired, and I scanned the park. There were only a couple of people over in the tennis courts today because it was too hot.
I watched Amy bend at the waist, her ebony braids spilling around her brown shoulders as she leaned over, reaching out with a skinny arm. She touched the stick to the centre of the old geezer’s back. He didn’t budge.
“He’s deader than a door nail. Going to be hitching a ride in the meat wagon.” Amy said. We giggled. But after a moment my stomach began to tremble.
A roasting August sun blanketed my head. My vision blurred. I felt as if I couldn’t get any air.
“What’s the matter with you?” Amy asked.
Her chocolate eyes swam before me and then I was lying on the ground with the scent of the summer scorched earth filling my nostrils. I turned on my back, squinted at a sky as murky as dishwater, and focused on taking in air. Amy’s ringing laugh penetrated my ears. She leaned over me and I could smell her coconut and spice scent from the stuff her mother used to braid her hair.
“Hey, we should bury him and turn him into a zombie,” Amy said.
I sat up after a moment, the dizziness passed.
“A zombie? What the heck are you talking about?” I asked, and squinted up at her.
“Yeah, just like in Haiti. We can keep him under our power so he will have to do what we say.”
“How do you make a zombie?”
“Well, first we have to give him a zombie powder. Then we have to burry him and come back at midnight and he’ll be turned into a zombie. Or I can just say a spell since I don’t have any of that stuff.”
“How do you know so much about zombies anyway?”
“My Grandfather was a Voodoo Priest. My mother told me he kept zombies as slaves back in Haiti.”
I stood up and dusted the seat of my shorts, then looked down at the little construction-worker man still lying broken and dirty in the same position.
“I think we should get out of here.” I was worried we’d be in more trouble over this dead guy than our vandalism at the new houses.
“Wait till I do the spell.”
I watched Amy lifted her arms and make circular motions in the air with her hands. She danced around on her spindly legs, her sandals slapping the ground as her summer dress spun about her knees. She clapped her hands and turned to me with a huge white grin. We both burst into giggles and ran away.
Later that day, safe back in the cocoon of my house, the events of the afternoon seemed like nothing more than a dream. I decided to forget about the old geezer and the spell Amy put on him. I placated myself that it was all pretend, that Amy couldn’t really cast spells and turn people into zombies. It was all just pretend.
After I fell asleep that night, I woke up unexpectedly and sat up in bed, fully awake. The house was quiet and my room was dark except for a stripe of moonlight that cast over my comforter through the window.
I got out of bed and wandered across the wood floor. A massive full moon gazed in at me as I pushed the curtains aside. I looked down and drew in a breath at the sight before me. I felt my insides being sucked into a vortex in the centre of my body like a black hole. In the middle of the yard stood a figure awash in silvery moonlight. He was staring up at me, his face pale, his wiry body stiff as a corpse, his construction hat clutched in one hand.
I gasped and dove back under the covers. Then the back door of our house slammed. My ears strained, tuned to hear the most infinitesimal of sounds. Pin-pricks of pain shot though my arms and travelled up the back of my neck. It was him! The old geezer was coming for me!
I heard his heavy footsteps coming up the stairs like an unexpected guest. Why was our dog not barking? I wanted to scream, call out to my parents, but I couldn’t muster whatever it was I needed--courage perhaps-- to open my mouth and make the sound come out. I was struck frozen with the sound of those footsteps coming down the hall.
Finally a harpy scream tore from my throat and split the air like a lightning crack.
“Jessie, Jessie!” The familiar outline of my dad’s face, eyes sparkling in the moonlight, materialized before me.
I lay back down on my pillow in the sweat soaked sheet. Of course. It was all pretend. All of it, just pretend.
For more great stories visit Chuck's place here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/05/27/flash-fiction-challenge-the-unexpected-guest/