Flash.Fiction: Potion

This week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction challenge is:

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

He wondered if it could be true. Could some potion be the answer to all his problems? Could he capture Vanessa’s heart? Were fame and fortune within his grasp?

He forked over the wad of cash. The old woman jutted a crooked finger at him and uttered an admonition…

And my response is:

The wizened crone shoved the money into her bosom and pushed a tiny blue bottle his way. “Watch what you wish for.”

He cringed as she croaked out the words. Watch. He didn’t like looking at her. Something about her made his skin tingle and not in a good way. Not the way Vanessa did. The crone’s hands reminded him of desiccated tarantulas, and her face… Oh god, her face was enough to put the fear of God into the most hardened criminal. He wanted to get away and write about it. She’d be the perfect character for his work in progress.

A laugh emerged from her hideous visage. “I hope it’s worth it.”

* * *

Within six months, his first novel, the one he’d written during a long week of seclusion at the Motel Six after visiting Madame Marie, was the NYT #1 Bestseller. Three more had followed in quick succession. Each one longer, more complicated than the previous. He was an international sensation. His books were leaping off the shelves. The money was pouring in.

And Vanessa was his bride.

But his fingers itched only for the smoothness of the keyboard, the solid click as words formed on the virtual page. Words filled his brain, putting so much pressure on his skull that he lived off Advil. Words, sentences, dialogue, demanding they be written.

He hadn’t eaten in two day.

Hadn’t slept in three.

Hadn’t made love to Vanessa since their wedding night.

He had to write.

Flash.Fiction: Scruples

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

It’s that time again. The Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction challenge stirred something in me, made me want to address it. I grew up on a farm, way back before…

Anyway, the prompt is:

I called him Sigfried. He just flew down and landed on that fence post one day when I was plowing. He came every day after that. He just sat there and watched me. When I left, he left.

One day, I decided to go over and see how close I could get before he flew away. But he didn’t fly away.

I walked right up and touched him. That’s when I realized he wasn’t a real bird, but a very realistic robot. I could see the cameras for eyes; hear the tiny servos whirring as he twitched and moved. They had found me. After all this time they had found me again.

And this is my response to the prompt:

I knew I wouldn’t be able to hide forever, not after what I’d done.

You see, I used to work for CA, Corporate America, managed one of those industrial farms, produced of all kinds of unhealthy, profit heavy crops and livestock. You know the ones. Or maybe you don’t. We had a way of hiding the problems with our merchandise.

I did so well they promoted me to the research division, corporate nirvana for my line of work, where I got to “contribute” instead of just pushing product. What I didn’t know was that contributing meant leaving my scruples at the door, well, what little scruples I had left after working on a CA farm.

Sigfried was my idea. I envisioned a robot owl used to keep birds away from precious crops like cherries. The hawk design worked better, more streamlined. No, I wasn’t being altruistic or a “green” bean. CA’s about the bottom line. I knew we could make a mint, could destroy the competition just by using the Sigfried model to drive birds to non-CA farms.

What I didn’t envision was how Sigfried would be used like a drone to drop hazardous chemicals into the water supply of competing farms, not just hurting their business, but putting them out of commission completely. Salting the earth, no less.

I ran with what little scruples I still had intact. But not before I leaked damaging information to the press. Then I hid, in plain sight. On a farm.

Until today.

Flash.Fiction: Time and Tide

Yes, it’s another Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction contest entry.  It’s unusual for me to do two so close together, but when I looked at the picture, I couldn’t resist.  I’m planning a vacation to an island in the San Juan’s and the picture made me think of what might be while I’m on vacation.

I read through the other entries, and I think I have put a unique spin on the story.

This week’s prompt is:

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

That kid in the picture is my little brother, Andy. In 1987, he got carried away by an undertow at this very beach. The authorities never recovered his body.

I took this picture of him yesterday, when he walked up out of the water as if nothing had happened.

And this is my story based on the prompt:

For just a moment I’m sure I’ve lost my mind. The boy, it’s Andy, my twin, but it can’t be Andy. Andy died. When we were kids, Andy died. The undertow took him from us, never to be found again.

I draw near, wary that a grownup approaching a young boy might look suspicious. But I can’t stay away. I have to see this boy. This ghost I’ve just captured on film.

As I suspected, a woman rushes up, grabs the boy’s hand, and asks me what I’m doing. The boy pulls away and runs further up the beach.

“It’s just… He looks like my brother, Andy. When we were kids.”

Never taking her eyes off the boy, the woman must sense my sadness.

“That’s funny.” She smiles, nodding toward the boy. “His name’s Andrew. But we call him Andy. For some reason, his father was adamant he be called Andy, wouldn’t consider anything else.”

“Daddy, Daddy,” the boy shouts holding up a starfish. “Look what I found.”

The father looks up from where he sits on the beach and waves at the boy.

There’s something about the father. I move closer.

The man stands, picks up the boy, and my heart skips a beat. Can it be? My brother, Andy, fully grown, my twin, stands before me. I walk up to him.

Hugging the boy safe, he extends his hand. “Name’s George. Can I help you?”

My mouth drops open. “Were you adopted?”

He frowns. “How’d you know?”

Flash.Fiction: The Ghosts of Northgate

Every week, Indies Unlimited has a flash fiction contest, and every now and then, the image and prompt calls to me. I love all things grizzly and creepy. If you’ve read my novella Couillon, you’ll understand. I think I scared some of the people in my writing classes because in my short stories, someone always gets killed in a disturbing way.

This week’s flash fiction prompt was the picture included here and a prompt:

Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

Northgate Sanitarium was an extension of the state prison system. The facility specialized in  experimental treatment of the criminally insane. Some horrible stuff went on there.

Abandoned in the 1950s, the old building has been linked by rumor to a few recent disappearances.

I had just gotten my first job as a journalist, working for the Northgate Observer. I thought it would make a good story to spend the night in the old sanitarium. Back then, I guess you could have called me a skeptic…

This is my response, my story:

Snow had fallen the night before, covering the campus and dampening any sounds from the surrounding areas, making the outing feel isolated and forbidding. And just downright cold. I followed along behind the shivering research students as they investigated the Northgate lockdown area, you know, the ward where the real crazies were kept. Now that the facility was closed for good, these students had keys to even the most appalling parts of the building.

I kept asking them questions, trying to steer them in the right direction without literally pointing out that they didn’t have a clue, but the arrogant little prats just ignored me. I could show them things. Scary things. Real things. After all as a reporter I had investigated Northgate, way, way back before some of them were born. They should at least pay attention. Should at least give me some of the respect I deserve.

This group wouldn’t even be here if only I’d been allowed to write the article I wanted to write, an article exposing the experimentation done on the unwilling. Unwilling, insane criminals, yes, but still unwilling. In my original research, I had uncovered atrocities that needed to be exposed. Doctors allowed to do whatever in the name of science. Doctors allowed to maim and mutilate. And kill, all in the name of science. If only…

If only I could just get these students to listen, I’d show them where the bodies were hidden, where my body was buried with all my notes.