I heard her screams in my sleep, traced the shadow on the box spring. We lay center of the mattress, keeping our feet from the edge, afraid the jagged black fingernail under her bed would grow a hand at the witching hour.
I hate my job. The customer is not always right. In fact, the customer is almost never right. You can be damn sure that the customer will be wrong every single time.
And no, I will not give you that sweet deal; it will end up coming out of my commission; if you can’t afford the phone, don’t buy it. And yes, your data plan will still cost $34.95 a month. And no, that does not include the price of your phone, which is extra. And why on earth do you think you can get away with only paying $6.99 for an iPhone 6?
“We’ve had several complaints about you, Diane,” my manager says. “They think you’re rude and unfriendly.”
“I will not entertain stupid questions.”
“I think I’ll let you go for the day. Don’t bother coming in tomorrow.”
So this is how one gets fired, I think to myself as I sit on the bench at the subway station, waiting on my train. I gotta tell ya, I was kind of hoping he would go all Donald Trump on me—one eye squinted, lips half pursed, pointing his finger at me like a pistol. Pow! “You’re fired!”
I fall asleep and find myself transported to an island paradise where the water is as blue as the sky, the sand white as snow, and the plush vegetation a deep green, fertilized by the rich, volcanic soil. I stand on the edge of a cliff, hold my hands above my head, and dive into the clear water.
They found my body on the tracks after the #5 train passed through. I guess I was sleepwalking.
word count . . . let’s just say I went over 😉
This is in response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers: write a story in 100-150 words (give or take 25 words) using the provided photo prompt as inspiration.
I was inspired by one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes: “A Stop at Willoughby”
Click on the froggy icon to read other stories and add your own!
There was an outbreak at the county prison farm. Inmates were dying violent deaths, their bodies splitting open, their innards ejecting into the atmosphere. Being new to the Department of Health and Human Services, I was assigned the gruesome task of finding a cause.
The prison doctor took me down to the infirmary to look at his latest admitted patient. A man in his late twenties serving fifteen years for armed robbery. He had watched his cellmate die before his eyes, and they had immediately taken him in, assuming he’d been infected. They’d tested his blood, urine, and saliva, and found no trace of the parasite responsible for killed nearly three dozen prisoners. Still, they kept him under observation for he had been suffering from intense abdominal pains, wrapping his arms around himself, curling into the fetal position, and screaming uncontrollably. It might have been just shock, but if he had been infected, they couldn’t risk spreading it to the remaining inmates.
“This is Daniel, Ms. Ryan,” the doctor said. “Daniel, do you think you can sit up for us?”
Holding his stomach, Daniel pushed himself up, sliding against the wall. His orange jumpsuit and the white bed sheets were drenched. Sweat dripped from his nose, and he breathed heavily as he stared into my eyes. I recognized him instantly.
“Sabrina?” His eyes widened. “Oh my god.”
I reached out to touch his soaking face, and he rested his head on my gloved hand. His breathing slowed.
“Do you two know each other?” the doctor asked.
“An old friend,” I said, but he was more than a friend. I was madly in love with him in highschool. And graduation night, as we lay together naked on the cold, wood floor of his stepfather’s work shed, he finally admitted he felt the same. I hadn’t seen him since the day I left for college. He’d told me that he didn’t get accepted into the university we’d been planning to attend together. He didn’t even apply. We’d promised each other to make the distance work, but D.C. had more promising men who lied much better. I broke it off two weeks into my first semester at Howard University.
“Doctor, do you think I can talk to the patient alone for a few minutes?” I asked.
“Certainly.” He nodded, and left the room. I shuffled my feet in my hazmat suit, unsure of where to start. Daniel started for me.
“You look nice. From what can see at least.”
I gave him a weak smile. “What happened to you? How’d you end up here?”
“You always said I hung out with the wrong kind of people. I should have listened to you. Maybe I wouldn’t be here. Maybe I’d still be alive.”
“What’s going on here? What is this thing?”
“I wish I knew,” he said, shaking his head. Tears started to stream down his face. I couldn’t remember a time I’d ever seen him cry. “Reggie,” he said between sobs. “One minute he’s fine, the next, he’s throwing up this huge, black worm, and it’s cutting him in half.” He started to scream, cradling his stomach and drawing up his knees. “I can’t! I can’t!”
I took his face in both of my hands. “Shhhh.”
“You have to get me out of here. I can’t die in here.”
“Promise me! Promise me you’ll do whatever you can to save my life.”
For the next two weeks, I tried to use all my contacts in the justice system to get him transferred to another prison, but no one would have him. Everyone on that prison farm were assumed to be infected. They needed to contain the parasite, ensure that it wouldn’t spread to the general population. A month after my visit to the prison farm, they set the entire facility on fire, incinerating its occupants, Daniel included, with it.
This is much darker, and more “science fictiony” that what you are used to reading from me. This story is actually a dream I had about my highschool ex-boyfriend a couple of nights ago. It was quite unsettling, and I actually woke up crying. I’ve often had dreams about him dying, but this one is without a doubt the most disturbing. What are your thoughts on what it could mean?
I fantasize about murdering my roommate every day. When I wake up in the morning with a stuffy nose and a sore throat due to her turning the thermostat down to fifty degrees in the middle of the night, I think about packing her body into one of those old chest freezers my grandparents keep in their basement. Since she apparently prefers to sleep in cold, dark places, she can pretend that it’s her own little ice bed, and slowly perish next to ice cream, TV tray dinners, and freezer burnt sausages. When she uses my favorite pan to cook her nasty ass smothered beef cheeks, and leaves the dirty pan in the sink for me to wash, I want to beat her over the head with it while it’s still hot from the stove, leaving red, circular blisters all over her face. When my sleep is rudely interrupted by her headboard ferociously slamming against my wall at three in the morning, I imagine taking a knife from the kitchen, slipping through the door she never closes, and plunging the knife through the skinny back of her boy-toy for that night, and into her body below.
Much to her dismay, we are not friends. I was desperate to find an apartment close to my new job, and she was desperate to find a replacement roommate before the next month’s rent, so we both turned to Craigslist for resolution. Meeting her through Craigslist should have been my first clue that the girl was going to be a total pain in the ass. Anyone who has to resort to Craigslist for anything—a car, a job, a single white female, or in my case, an apartment—lack a certain human quality that enables them to have normal relationships with others, myself included. Why else would I take pleasure in visualizing her infinite violent deaths? Of course, she drove me to it with all of her annoying quirks.
At first sight, Natalie seems like a nice girl, cute, with olive skin, brown eyes, brown freckles, long, light brown hair that she constantly flips and combs back with her fingers, and a tiny mouth with perfectly straight teeth—no doubt she’s had dental work done. She’s short, about five three, with a long slim waist, and she only wears sweatpants two sizes too big, and tank tops that she brings together to tie into a knot at the small of her back, showing off her curves, some midriff, and a pink thong underneath. From the outside you wouldn’t understand why I hate her so much, but outside appearances can often be deceiving.
Natalie is the type of person who intentionally does things to piss you off, testing you to see just how much of a push over you are, then takes total advantage. She’ll pile dirty dishes in the sink and waits until you’re so fed up with the mess that you clean them yourself before she says, “Oh, I was gonna get that.” She’ll use the last roll of toilet tissue—conveniently, when you’re on your period—goes to the store for some more, then hoards them in her room, saying, “If you really need some, you’d go buy it yourself.” When your boyfriend comes over for dinner and a movie, she’ll roam around the house stark naked, drawing his eyes from the movie and you to her perky tits, hard nipples, little round ass, and clean shaven cooch, and when you politely ask her to put on some damn clothes, she’ll say, “Can I not be comfortable in my own house?” and your boyfriend will say, while repositioning his pants, “Yea babe, let her be comfortable.”
Four months I dealt with this silently, expressing my resentment only to friends and my mom on our Sunday afternoon phone conversations. So many times I wanted to get back at her, but no matter how conniving my schemes were, I always chickened out. I’m not quite sure when my dreams of revenge—locking the screen door while she’s out on the balcony sunbathing, turning off the bathroom light while she’s in the shower, calling the next guy she brings home Dick, when his name is Jake—turned into elaborate plots of murder. I suppose the switch came the night I almost killed her. Accidentally, of course.
I had cooked shrimp linguini alfredo for my dinner, and as soon as I turned off the oven, she came waltzing into the kitchen in a tank top and panties, singing, “Mmm, it smells so good in here! I think I’ll fix me a plate.”
Before I could even object she was sitting at the counter with a plate overflowing with noodles. I watched her choke down my dinner without even pausing to catch her breath, until suddenly she dropped her fork and with wide eyes, demanded, “What’s in this pasta?” Before I could even answer, she was wheezing and clawing at her neck. I scurried behind her and tried to give her the Heimlich, but she swatted my hands away. She spun around in the chair, sticking out her swollen tongue and taking short, sharp gasps of breath that sounded like yelps for help. She clung to the front of my t-shirt and pointed a shaking finger towards her room. Realizing she was having an allergic reaction to the shrimp, I took off to her room and scrambled through her purse until I found what I supposed was an EpiPen. When I returned to the kitchen, she was grappling on the floor, swinging her head back and forth, her hands clenched to her neck. I had never used an EpiPen before, only seen it done on TV, so I didn’t realize that I needed to remove it from the tube before I began stabbing her leg. She kept scratching my hand, shaking her head, and grunting at me like a gorilla. I was so confused, and her frantic wiggling terrified me more, keeping me frozen by her side squealing, “What do I do? What do I do!”
Eventually, she was able to pause her helpless thrashing and give herself the shot, seeing that I was of no help. When she was able to breathe again, she snatched herself from the floor and said, “God, Dianne! I could’ve died!” before stomping off to her room and slamming the door behind her.
The next time she eats my food, I’ll be sure to add plenty of shellfish and “misplace” the only thing that can save her life . . .