The Journey or the Finish

 

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Image: Pixabay

Short Story – I had to commit to the journey or the finish… I wasn’t even sure what that meant when they told me to check one box. 

“Only check one box. If you check both boxes they’ll send you to the back of the line and you’ll have to start over,” a shaggy man in a red flannel whispered.

I glanced around the open space at people sitting and standing – everyone around me looked like the shaggy man – as some filled out forms and others sat in rickety chairs held together by wire and clothespins.

“What is this place?” I whispered back. I felt like I had been running for my entire life what with my palpable exhaustion oozing out of me like a stench-filled puss and I was surprised, shocked really, that after all that running this is where I ended up.

He furrowed his brow and slunk his shoulders and I got a strange vibe.

I leaned in closer and asked in a barely audible voice, “Is that what happened to you?”

He nodded twice as his shoulders drooped so low I thought he’d fold into himself and then his eyes shifted to the left.

Naturally, I too, looked left and then saw an enormous and elongated creature leaning against a textured wall that looked like rice, but how could there be a wall of rice? It made no sense – none of this made sense. This creature had six limbs yet it stood upright with twelve eyes (I counted) and all it did was hiss and spit at anyone who moved too slow.

Was I dreaming? Was I fucking high? What the hell was going on?

Finally, it was my turn and I bid my strange friend ado as I walked up to the long table and stated my name.

“Which is your commitment? The journey or the destination?” one of the three creatures at the table asked, holding a box to its chin.

“Why do I have to commit? What if I change my mind?” I answered. A stabbing pain shot up my spine and I wiggled as I tried not to fall to the floor.

“Which is your commitment?” a second creature asked after holding a box to its chin.

A million thoughts flashed through my mind in a second but the biggest one was: How could I commit to the finish when I had no idea what I was starting? What would be between there and here? What if I just ended up at the finish and I hated it?

“I commit to the journey,” I stated and puffed out my chest and looked in all twelve eyes.

There was silence followed by a growing buzz of voices.

The creature stared at me and then placed the box on the table and raised four of its limbs to the air.

My heart raced as it climbed out of its prospective spot and lodged in my throat. Damn, I’m a goner. 

“Only rare specimens commit to the journey. Good luck Mr. Walker,” the creature hissed as it held that box to its throat.

The air swirled and popped and then I fell through the floor into the black.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/commit/

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Flash Fiction Friday: Desperate Measures – Part One

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There were seventeen cats living in Louie’s basement.  Louie wasn’t sure how it got so out of control, but he knew he had a problem when incessant meowing had become the background music for dinner.  Louie really thought he was doing the right thing, but it seemed at some point in the last nine months he became a compulsive cat hoarder.

It all started when Pawsie and Meowlofur were left after his sister Shelia’s death.  She had asked Louie – while infested with tubes on her death bed  – to take her precious felines.  Louie had begged her in the hollow hospital room to let someone else have the pleasure, but Sheila was adamant.

“Take the precious ones, Louis. Take them and protect all of-” Sheila’s last words.

“All of what, Sheila?  All of the cats?” Louie asked.

Sheila’s head drooped forward.

“Alright, I’ll do my best, sis,” Louis sighed. That was his last memory of his sister.

Fluffington, a black and white tabby, came next while Louie was taking the recycling out the back of the office building he maintained as a janitor.  Fluffington, who was nameless at the time, cried under the dumpster while staring at Louie.  Louie stomped his feet.  The cat meowed.  Louie charged the cat.  The cat flipped over and rolled in the dirt all the while purring.  Louie dropped to his knees and scooped the long-haired cat up.

Caring for the cats became increasingly difficult after he adopted Cat 9, but Louie was a sucker for a furry face and every cat he saw outside without a collar he took back to his little house and put in his basement.

Litter had become so expensive that he decided it was best to just dig a ditch in the basement floor.  The ditch was four feet long by two feet wide and roughly a foot deep.  Realizing that he dug the ditch for economical purposes, he pondered how expensive filling it with litter would be.

There was a schoolyard down the street with a big sandbox, Louie remembered.  Each day he would stroll by careful not to alarm anyone about an older man skulking the play yard.  He couldn’t let anyone think he was a weirdo!

After realizing that his pockets were not adequate to transport his free kitty litter, Louie had cut off of the top of a gallon milk container to get sand.  He would go to the sandbox at the playground, careful to make sure he was alone.  He’d look around, and he’d chop his arm down in one big swoosh like a pendulum and fill the container with sand.  He didn’t even miss the days that it rained.  Those were the days he was sure to bake the sand and remove any unmentionables along with the dampness.

But the biggest problem of all was food.

How would Louie feed all these cats? 

…to be continued…

Flash Fiction Friday – The Broken Road

There was this road; this cracked, steamy, dilapidated road that I heard about in a bar about twenty miles outside of the small town of Centralia, PA.  The gentleman (and I use that term loosely) who spoke of the road was so inebriated, I could scarcely tell if he was telling a whacked out story handed down through generations or if there was truth to the tale.

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Photo: DAM Steelman (Centralia, PA)

But I had to know.  That was my nature.  I had to get to the bottom of everything.  So, like a snake slithering back into the trees, I slipped out of the bar unnoticed, and headed for Centralia. I drove around that bright, sunny Sunday afternoon and then I saw the sign:

CENTRALIA – 2 MILES

Yes!  I overheard the road was closed.  And why wouldn’t it be?  Apparently, it was in no condition to handle any kind of traffic.  There were cracks and graffiti; steam and overgrown weeds. I came around a bend and saw the cemetery on Highway 61 that was mentioned. It was old Highway 61 I was searching for and it shot right off of new Highway 61.

I made it!  I could go back to the city and tell everyone about the broken road I stumbled upon.  Well, I could have.

You see, there was a large crack in the road, I hadn’t noticed it really, if you could believe that.  I was too busy gazing at all the profane graffiti on the sun-baked asphalt while catching glimpses of steam shooting out from cracks far down the broken road.

There was no rumble when the ground opened wide and swallowed me whole.  It was almost as if the broken road had been waiting to feast on something to quell its burning innards.

I always did have terrible timing.

*This piece is a repost from an older blog. It is one of my favorites.

W – Walking (A Flash Fiction Piece)

English: Walking through Heth woods
English: Walking through Heth woods (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The frigid wind kicked up as I walked through the woods; blanketing my face making it impossible to see.  I had to get to my destination but had lost my way and my condensation filled compass stopped working an hour ago.

I was pretty sure I was fucked. My left shoe fell off a mile back and now the sun was dropping.  The coyotes were already howling.  Did they smell fresh meat?  Did they find my shoe?  They sounded further away than where I lost my shoe.

My mind raced as I thought about the conversation I had with Jay.  Through crocodile tears, he told me he no longer loved me.  He had reconnected with a woman from his past and they just “hit it off so well.”  Plus, he added that I was “no fun anymore” since I didn’t drink.

Jerk.

The brand new watch on my wrist; a gift from him for our six month anniversary read six o’clock.  I drew back my tears and trekked on.  A part of me wished I was in the city so I could hit a bar and drink away my emotions.  But, that was stupid and childish.  It was good to be in the woods.  Being surrounded by nature was more peaceful than being surrounded by a bunch of horny, drunk men.

I never thought I’d ever think that way.  Sobriety seems to be helping me grow.

Flash Fiction Friday – The Darkness

Image: forum.skyscraperpage.com
Image: forum.skyscraperpage.com

I’m sitting in the dark now.  It stopped raining about an hour ago.  People are walking up and down this quaint little street in Newtown, Pennsylvania.  I tried to walk; I really did.  But it was just too much for me.  All the people. Man, the people.  Their eyes boring through my skin began to drive me mad, you see.  I could see everything.  Everything!  All their sins, their heartbreak, their desires seeped into my soul like rain into the dry, cracked earth.  I had to get away you see.

Now, I am isolated with the memory of a thousand different stares beaming into my brain.  It is just too much!

There is only one way to get rid of this torment.  I have to cut it out.  I have to let the tears bleed out of my skin.  I must release the screams from my pores.

It is the only way…

Flash Fiction Friday – Bullet

Reblog of a favorite Flash Fiction of mine.

English: Picture of a standard 'K Bullet' as m...

So I sat in a box for the last, oh, I don’t know, seven years?  Just sat there on a shelf with dozens of other boxes on other shelves with the others and I am finally free.
I don’t know who opened the box and put me in the chamber of freedom, but his fingers were fat like crinkled sausages and they smelled like shit. I guess some uprights never wash their hands.
“There you go my pet,” the upright says. “You are such a special little bullet. You were born to do great things.  You are going to change history, my pet.”
The upright talks a lot.
It’s freaking dark in here.  I have waited my entire life to get out of that damn box. I am a special bullet.  I don’t mingle with common bullets.
Seven years I have waited for this.  I don’t know what to expect. I just hear the voice.  I guess the voice thinks I can’t understand, but I can. I hear it talk about me.  It talks about my velocity, my speed and my distance.
It’s weird, you know? I don’t know what any of it means.
I can hear the upright speak as I sit here waiting for my moment of glory. He told me I was going to change history.  I don’t know what that means really…  but it sounds important.
Before the upright put me in here, it held me close to where the voice comes out.  It told me all these things.
“You’re so beautiful,” it says.
“You are the most special bullet ever, little bullet. You are going to make poppa so proud,” the voice cries.
I wanted to concur or validate the voices wishes. But what the hell, I’m just a bullet after all. A special bullet it tells me. But I don’t know what the means.  I don’t even know what my purpose is.
“Oh, special bullet. Be straight and true with your aim, young one.  Guide your soul into the heart of that bastard and save us all,” the voice screams.
The upright put me in something cold and long.  It’s dark in here.
Wait.  I just heard a loud bang and now I am zooming through the air toward another upright.  I don’t understand any of this.
Now I am in something hot, dark and wet. This is so odd.  I was happy in my box with the others.  I don’t feel so special anymore. Where is the voice?
I hear other voices now.  They are making high-pitched noises.  They are screaming, “He’s shot! He’s shot!”
My shell is gone.  I am now a flat piece of metal.
I still don’t feel special.

Friday Flash Fiction – Resistance

Minetta Tavern
Minetta Tavern (Photo credit: Gandhu & Sarah)

Carson Smithers sat on the bar stool as the clock struck the eight o’clock hour.  He had been on that bar stool for the last three hours staring at the now warm beer on the ratty coaster in front of him.  The day’s work had ended in shambles along with a verbal tirade from his boss in front of his co-workers; even Jenny, the hot girl from the cubicle at the end of the hall.

“Hey, buddy, you gonna drink that or do you want a fresh one?”  The burly bartender asked as he wiped the old, wood bar down with a wet rag.  Carson watched as the bartender methodically picked up coasters, wiped, put coasters down, and wiped all the way to the other end of the bar without missing a piece of the bar or spilling a drink.

Carson looked up sheepishly and nodded while he pushed the perspiring glass to the edge of the bar and pulled his cigarettes from his pocket.

The jukebox started playing an unfamiliar country western song as someone broke the rack on the pool table.  Carson counted three balls that dropped into the pockets without looking at them rattling around on the fuzzy green felt of the table.

His eyes gazed across the pool table, across the jukebox, across the blonde-haired woman with the heaving breasts and over to the repaired wall to the left of all the action.  He remembered making that hole over ten years ago in a drunken rage over a different blonde-haired woman so long ago.

The bar stool shrieked as he pushed it back with his legs to stand up.  All of the memories that flooded back reminded him of all the reasons why he stopped drinking and took steps to change his life.

The bartender rushed down to Carson, “hey buddy, you leaving already?  You bought two beers and didn’t take a sip from either.  What gives?”

Carson tossed a ten-dollar bill on the bar and said, “Sorry, man.  I got to get to a meeting.”