Unfortunately, it’s again been some time since anything was posted here. I’d love to be able to say that the delay is due to accidentally curing cancer on the way down to settle this whole “world peace” thing, but that simply isn’t true. Day jobs and personal challenges have been the way of the year…but things will be getting better!
Just in time, too, as the fine folks at Ink After Dark have a flash fiction challenge just in time for Halloween. All one has to do is include one of several specific phrases in their spooky tale.
Happy Halloween to everyone, whether for that means costumes and candy, or celebrating the last harvest of the year with their ancestors, or something else entirely.
Pictures rattled, but the music couldn’t shake the apathy from Rosa’s weary soul. Glancing around at the friends around her, she took another drink from a plastic cup. The unnamed liquor tasted tropical, a far cry from the suburban mini mansion they had broken into. The front door slammed open, and in case it was the homeowners or the police, she started to bolt from the scene. Instead, Max stomped inside with more beer and a bag of snacks.
“Sure know how to scare a girl, dude.” she said as he wiped his feet in the entry. He shrugged, trudging around the overloaded coach of card players.
Closing the door behind him, she asked the usual line. “Were you born in a barn?” It even sounded flat to her; she just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm.
“This isn’t my barn!” he responded playfully, and nodded his head toward the kitchen.
Once there, Rosa helped Max put the beer in the taken over fridge. He kept silent, waiting until Rosa explained.
“It’s no big deal, I’m just…bored.”
“Life. Everything. The parties, the jobs, all of it.”
Max nodded. “Yeah, been there. Even the same daydreams over and over.”
“Exactly. I just need a change.”
“Lucky night, then. Got just the thing.” Max grinned as he fished a vial out of his pocket. “It’s new.”
“What is it?” She looked at the silvery powder skeptically as she took it.
“One of those new quantum drugs. Called Tangle. Problem with your imagination, it’s always yours. Same you, same fantasies. This stuff lets you ride other people’s.”
“Mind reading? Come on.” Rosa fidgeted with the vial, but couldn’t quite hand it back.
“No, people have to let you. They take another kind, and it connects neurotransmitters or something.”
“Don’t know. Guess to them it’s like putting your brain inside a trench coat you can fling open. It’ll be different, guarantee.”
She snorted a dose, and moments later, she looked up at him. “That’s odd.”
Max replied, but she didn’t hear. Her brain only knew the fantasy. Exhilarating, she could feel every fingertip on her body as if it was real. Beads of sweat rose under hot stadium lights before the skin cooled under each affectionate touch. Her partners’ sweet breath mixed with the scent of freshly cut grass, while a crowd cheered.
Rosa broke free of the fantasy, and found Max grinning at her. Blushing, she looked down and wrapped her jacket tightly. Trying to act nonchalant, she yelled out to the partygoers. “You guys are sick!” Nobody was quite sure who she was talking to, but they laughed all the same.
Max grabbed a drink and moved toward the others. “You’ll probably get a few more tonight.”
The party went on, filled with reckless disregard for the borrowed home. The usual people were in their normal places: Sherry stood singing on a table, and Rick passed out in a makeshift hammock. While watching chair jousting, Rosa felt another fantasy coming on. She hid in an upstairs bathroom to be alone, with no audience this time.
This fantasy was different. She was crouched in bushes near the very house they were partying in, and a girl came out the front door. Helplessly, she joined the dreamer in sneaking up behind the girl and cracking her skull with a shovel. With a snap, another blow broke an ankle and sent the girl to the ground. The attacker laughed and stood over the helpless form, destroying the neck with the shovel. Rosa fought the scene, but remained trapped. The onslaught continued, with blows raining down on the corpse, tearing the girl’s leather jacket and deforming the face around brown eyes, now lost in the midst of black seas of infinity. Dark hair stained in ichor painted macabre brush strokes on the yard.
Rosa found herself back in her own body, and vomited into the sink, shaking in terror from the violence and gore. Tears streamed down, and she collapsed to the floor. The locked bathroom door rattled, and a knock followed.
“Man, hurry up in there.”
Rosa wiped her ruined makeup on an ornamental towel and gathered her composure to go back out to her closest friends. One of them was fantasizing about killing her, and that made tonight a whole lot different, guaranteed.