#VisDare 91 : Reverie

a6d409405b97ba60875b4f1f94e3f68aI waved my hand at the buildings around the small courtyard. “Ain’t much hope here. Just concrete, and rust.” I looked at the reporter. “And death. Ain’t much hope here.”

He didn’t move. Just sat on the bench, and looked around.

He’d never visited my part of town. There were no stores, no restaurants, but you could buy crack on every corner, and get shot for no damn reason. And if you died on the street, your body could be there for days.

I leaned back on my bench, held my trumpet up. “People need hope, and I do what I can to give them some.”

I played. A lonely voice. A ray of light. A thread of hope. In a concrete hell. The only sounds beside my trumpet were a mother’s cries at the loss of her son, and every now and then, shots fired from a gun.

149 Words
@LurchMunster


Another story I pieced together for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare. I’m writing more, and that feels good. Please read the other entries in this week’s Visual Dare challenge.

Where Does It End?

If it starts with, “He’s a fag. Shoot him.”
Where does it end?
What happens next?
“She’s a whore. Shoot her.”
And then what?
“He divorced her. Shoot him.”
Seriously?
Where does it end?
“She slept with a man, and they weren’t married! Stone her!”
Does it ever end?
“He reads Playboy, looks at pictures of naked women! Pervert! Gouge out his eyes!”
Or when one domino falls,
Does it knock over the next?
“He’s got HIV. Kill him, for the safety of us all!”
And then the next…
“She’s bipolar! That’s not normal!”
And the next…
“He’s mentally deficient, and dependent on his parents!”
And the next…
“She’s got red hair!”
And the next…
“His eyes are blue!”
And the next…
“Her skin’s the wrong color!”
And the next…
“He likes flowers, and wears pink!”
Where does it end?
“She wears blue jeans!”
Or does hatred,
And fear,
Of what is different,
What is not us,
Keep going.
“He’s left handed!”
And going.
“She’s cross eyed!”
And going.
“He’s fat!”
Without end.

Until there’s no one left.

No one left at all.

#ThursThreads Week 161 : Let Them Work Or Starve

“What caused the fall?” I shook my head. “What caused the grand old party to implode? To become irrelevant?”

Everyone in the classroom nodded. “No, Mr. Limbaugh,” Mitt belted out, “Why did we become irrelevant?”

Sometimes, I wondered why I chose to teach our party’s history. It was such a sad tale, with such a violent end.

I took a deep breath, “You read the assignment, didn’t you?”

Sarah belted out, “Of course not! Reading’s dangerous! Fills your head with all sorts of nasty ideas!”

Ted joined in, “I asked Reverend Ronald what he thought.”

Of course none of them had read anything, so, I turned to the board, and drew another cartoon strip. They liked cartoons.

I started with the mass firings caused by automation. Then, I showed our ancestors and their big houses, cars, swimming pools, and all the other things we once had. Next, I showed the peasants outside our fenced off, protected world. Then, I showed the starvation burial grounds. It’s what happened when people couldn’t work. They starved.

I showed Sir Mitch, standing before the board of directors, “If they’re starving, let them find work. It’s not our job to take care of them.” The next frame was of the poster, “Let them work or starve”. The final frame, the rebellion, where the party fell.

Sarah couldn’t help herself, and belted out, “Because people stole all our stuff, and took all the food we’d earned!”

It was good when someone understood.

246 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 151. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#MWBB Week 2.43 – Dance The Hanged Man’s Jig

[MANDATORY CONTENT WARNING – A story about suicide. Read at your own risk.]

“Another soul no longer part of this world. Another ray of light, gone. One less spark of hope.” Zain read the headline on the paper again. Another music star found dead. He’d shot himself in the head. Left bits of his brains scattered around his hotel room.

“And no one knows why, as always.” Zain shook his head. He didn’t want to go to work anymore. Not that day. He knew what would happen, how everyone would talk about the suicide. “He shot himself. Why? Why didn’t he get help? Such a tragedy.” It would be the topic of the day, perhaps for days. He didn’t want to look at his social network feeds, they’d be the same. An endless string of people saying, “What is wrong with this country? Why can’t we take care of those who need it?” And countless pleas from millions upon millions, “If you’re thinking about it, get help! Please!”

Zain didn’t want to have it shoved in his face endlessly. It was mindless, always so mindless. “Get help? The man had help!” He wanted to scream. He knew the stories, the years of psychotherapy the singer spoke of on talk shows. The book he’d written about his journey, his walk through depression, the way people treated him.

“Idiots.”

Zain closed his eyes, the words of his therapist echoed in his head, words he’d heard a million times, in a million sessions, “Breathe. Just breathe.” He’d learned well. He opened his mouth, and took a deep breath. As deep as he could, while he thought the first half of his mantra, “Breathing in, I’m breathing in.” Then, he breathed out, “Breathing out, I’m breathing out.”

He felt the tremble of rage in his left wrist, that old familiar vibration in his fingers. “Is it rage? Or is it panic?” He never knew. Perhaps it was both. Perhaps it was only memories.

Normally, he’d run the shutdown script to safely power down his computer. He didn’t feel like waiting for it that morning, so he pulled the plug from the wall, and watched the screen go blank as the cooling fans fell silent. “No. Not going there today.”

One quick dial button on his phone, and he’d called the office, “Not gonna make it in today. Not well.”

And the boss always said the same thing, “Feel better.”

No breakfast. No food. Zain couldn’t eat. “I need a walk. I need a walk. I need a walk.” He grabbed a soda, popped it open, drained half of it. Then, grabbed his daily doses of fluoxetine and Vitamin D. He washed them down with the other half the soda.

“I need a walk.” Zain walked for miles. He watched everyone driving to work, an endless stream of cars. As he walked, he smiled. “He’s free, you know. He is.” Zain glanced at the clouds, “Take good care of him. Heal the wounds this world put into him. The scars. And take away his pain.”

Zain walked, knowing why another soul was gone. Knowing the scars within him, in his heart and soul, the missing pieces of himself, would only grow in number. Knowing he’d never find escape. Never find peace.

“You’re free at last.”

Zain liked the color of the sky, it’s pale blue, with high, wispy clouds scattered on the roof of the world.

“You’re free at last.”

Then, he waited for the next soul to fall. Wishing to his God above more people understood why some people sought escape, asking for world would change, to stop wounding those who dream, who create, who dare be unique, different, alive. Knowing nothing would ever change.

“You’re free at last.”

623 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for Year 2, Week 43 (Week 2.43) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Dance The Hanged Man’s Jig” by Aghast Manor. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#FinishThatThought Week 2-38 : The Grass Never Grew

They never asked why I set the tree on fire. I tried to tell them, to explain, but they never understood. Mom and Dad drug me to all kind of doctors, and I spent months in therapy. I still have to take these stupid pills. And I’m in the middle of 24 months of civic service as punishment for setting that tree on fire. And no one ever asked why I did it. Not even the doctors. All they ever said was, “You set a tree on fire. That’s wrong. Here’s what we need to work on.”

But, see? It wasn’t like that at all.

There was a place on the ground, beneath that tree, where the grass never grew. Dad tried for years to grow anything there. He even planted that stuff that’s supposed to grow in the dark, without any water. Nothing. Nothing grew in that spot under that tree.

No one knew why, but me.

I used to sit on the back porch, and watch her on the swing. Yeah. I know. There was no swing. We never put one up. But she was there, on the swing which hung from the lower limb of that tree. She played there every day. Her name was Barbara. I know, ‘cause I asked her.

“I’m stuck,” she told me. “I’m stuck doing this over and over. I can’t escape. I’ve tried.”

“Why are you stuck?”

“Watch me every day. You’ll see.”

I did. I watched her every day. She was always there, swinging away. On the 100th day, everything changed. Barbara climbed the ropes for the swing. She climbed into the tree. She got to the lower branch, worked her way to the trunk, and then moved from one branch to the next, as up she went.

She climbed really high. It was exciting to see. She climbed all the way to the top. Then, she balanced on the branches, and reached for the sun. Like she wanted to hug it. “I’m free!”

There was a sick sounding crack from one of the branches she was standing on. I watched as that branch gave way. Barbara fell. She bounced off branches. Limbs stabbed her, tore at her skin, her clothes. She fell from the tree.

Barbara was dead. I knew that. But, you see, she landed in that spot where nothing grew. Everywhere she touched the ground, every place a drop of her blood landed. Nothing grew.

The next day, she was on the swing again. “I’m stuck. Now I have to do this all over again.”

See. That’s why I set the tree on fire.

Now, Barbara’s free.

439 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 2-38 (Year 2, week 38) of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

#FSF : Vindictive

“This ain’t a vendetta,” I pulled the bag off the bastard’s head, so he could see. “Like you, my Daddy was a white, arrogant bastard with no respect for women,” I made sure he got a good look at me. “One night Daddy beat Momma to death, and when I found out, I shot him for what he did. Tonight, you beat a woman, just like Daddy beat Momma.” I placed the barrel of my 9mm between his eyes, and pulled the trigger. “It ain’t like I’m vindictive or anything.”


One for Lillie McFerrin‘s flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is Vindictive. Please, go read all the other entries to this week’s Five Sentence Fiction. It’s amazing what creative people can do with just five sentences.

#FlashMobWrites 1×04 : Here Comes The Rapture

“We always looked to the stars for redemption.” Blue shook her head. “For someone to save us from the daily fires.” I could tell she cried. “And one day, new stars appeared.” That was us. My humans, from my Earth. “They grew brighter each day.”

“It was us. I’m sorry.”

Blue rested her hand on my shoulder. “It was not you. It is not your fault. It is the fault of others.” She continued her story.

…….

The stars grew brighter, and closer. We rejoiced. God the Father had sent his angels, his people, to rescue us. To take us to heaven. Where we would live in peace. Where we would love each other. Help each other. Where we would build a new world.

We gathered, thousands of us, as we watched the stars grow, watched them become ships, sailing through the vacuüm of space. Angels from Heaven. We watched the ships grow closer each day.

On the day they arrived, thousands of us gathered to watch the first ship land. We watched purifying fire from it scorch the earth where it would land. We waited. Until doors opened. Until a strange bipedal being, so very tall, walked out, with a flag, and a book. A dozen more like him surrounded him. They guarded him. Protected him.

We heard his words, in a language we did not know. “In the name of God, the Father, and his son, Jesus the Christ, we establish this foothold on another lost world. We commence the process of bringing another world from darkness into the light.”

He shoved the post holding the flag into the ground. He waved at the other angels around him. They faced us. They drew strange sticks from their clothing. They waved them at us. Beams of light slaughtered hundreds that day. And the man who planted the flag proclaimed, “Here comes the rapture, to yet another lost world. We shall cleanse this world, and bring it into your holy fold, our Father. Amen.”

……

I knew the truth. They were Christians, from my world, my Earth. Spreading through the galaxy. Hell bent on rescuing the planets everywhere from the hands of the devil. Cleansing one planet at a time, bringing it into the fold of Christianity.

“It’s why we’ve come, Blue.” I place my hand on her shoulder. “It’s why I’ve come.”

She looked at me. Her eyes filled with so many deaths. So much loss.

“We’re going to stop them.”

412 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this in response to the prompts and song for this weeks #FlashMobWrites Flash Fiction challenge. The weekly challenge is hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in this week’s challenge.

#MWBB Week 2.42 – Ishq Love and the Veil

It would be sunrise in twenty minutes. It was time to set up my tent and prepare for another day of survival in a virtual oven. I dropped my backpack, pulled out my tiny tent, an a-frame tent, with lightweight aluminum poles, not fiberglass. The aluminum worked better for me. Made the tent easier to set up.

After my tent was ready, I grabbed my camera from the pack, then tossed the pack in the tent, sleeping bag and all. Soon, I’d have to hide inside for what would feel like endless hours. I adjusted the rain fly to block as much sand as possible. I knew it would be as much as twenty degrees cooler in the tent than outside.

It was day six of ten. I’d planned my trip for a year. A year of physical torture, walking miles in the heat of summer, learning to find water where I could, learning to set up water capture netting. Learning to eat what I could find. How to live off the desert. I’d even had to spend three days and nights in Death Valley solo to earn the right for my trip.

I walked along the netting. I’d set it up at the first sign of fog. You can taste the water in the air. I threw the netting up, and prayed I’d catch enough water to fill a glass or two. Enough to get through the next day.

I’d reversed the entire schedule. Walk at night, hide in the tent during the day. During the night I needed less water. At night it was cold as hell, but in a jacket, hauling 50 pounds of gear, I burned enough energy the cold didn’t bother me so much. And it certainly beat walking beneath a sun that could fry an egg in minutes on sand that could melt car tires.

Yeah. I know. “Why would anyone want to cross the desert?” You ask, ‘cause you ain’t me. You don’t know what I go through, working five days a week, in a job that’s trying to kill my soul. You don’t know what it’s like when you can’t say what you feel, what you think, because what you feel and think are wrong, and you’ll get told again, “You can’t be that way.” Or, “That’s wrong! You’re wrong!”

Daily life kills me. One bit at a time. One thread at a time, my rope frays away. Until I have no choice and have to escape. I have to escape everything. Phones. Radios. TV. News papers. The internet. The civilized world we’ve made. I have to escape it all.

This year, I escaped to the desert. Where no one could reach me. No one could tell me what to feel. What to think. How to live. In the desert, I was alone. All the voices that haunted me every day were gone. All the rights and wrongs were gone. All the good and evil, gone. All that mattered was survival. All that mattered was my next breath, my next heartbeat, my next swallow of water, my next meal. All the lies, the myths, the artificial things made by mortal men, fell away. The veil of civilization was cast aside.

And I was free.

And I was alive.

Once I knew the net was right, and was collecting what water it could from the ground fog, I turned Eastward, and waited. Soon, the sun would rise. And the colors of the world would come to life once more. The black sky, and black sand would light up with color. Golds, reds, oranges, pinks, yellows. High, thin, wispy, pink and orange cirrus clouds painted against a pale pink sky.

It was stunning. Just like life, without that veil we hide it behind.

628 Words
@LurchMunster


This is my entry for Year 2, Week 42 (Week 2.42) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Ishq Love and the Veil” by Niyaz. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.

#FinishThatThought Week 2-37 : Florence

Florence was the most irritating person I had ever met. Was. That’s the key word there. That woman had been a tease for years. Like she relished torturing me, making me miserable, pointing out what I couldn’t have.

Oh, the countless times she leaned over my shoulder, her knockers right next to my eyeballs. How was I supposed to not see them? How was that suppose to not be distracting? I used to wake up at night from dreams of finally being able to touch them. Touch them and much more.

Casual Fridays were torture. She wore jeans. Painted on jeans. Oh, those legs, and those buns! And she walked around all day, those hips swaying, like a damn hypnotists watch. I kept telling myself, “Don’t look! Focus on your work!” But it was useless. I kept seeing her hips moving across my computer screen. I kept seeing those legs that went forever.

She always walked up behind me, put her arms around my neck, whispered in my ear, “Let’s do lunch.” Hell, I’d have eaten cardboard dipped in chalk just to sit across a table from her, and pray she leaned forward.

The worst days were when she wore the boots and the leggings. It was like those things weren’t there. They fit every curve of her, showed off every bit of her legs, hips, thighs, butt. I’d get home from work, and have to take a shower. A cold shower.

Everything would have been OK if she’d have followed through. If she’d have finished what she started. Instead, she always walked away. She bumped my hip in the hallway at least once a week. Her hip swung right into mine. “Oopsie!” She always looked at me with this smile and said, “Control yourself, big fella.”

Every Friday as we left work, she grabbed my hands, put her fingers between mine, gave me a peck on the cheek, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”

Florence tortured me for years. Anyone could see that. Always hinting. Always teasing. Always staying out of reach. Not anymore. I finally had enough of her torture. She won’t be irritating me anymore.

Just talking about her and the things she did to me have me all spun up. Made me all hot and bothered again. Those knockers I could never touch. Those hips, those legs, that mouth, those buns. Once they were out of my reach. Not anymore. Now, every time I remember the torture she put me through, I go to my basement. She’s there. Naked. And I can finally do all the things she never let me do. All the things she made me want to do.

445 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Week 2-37 (Year 2, week 37) of Alissa Leonard‘s Finish That Thought. Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

#FlashMobWrite 1×02 : Begging For Thread

All I want’s a thread. A single thread. Of life. Of hope. That’s all. A thread to keep me alive. But, there aren’t any around. No one’s there. I’m alone. Since she left. Until I can find someone else. Anyone else.

So alone.

So empty.

Rosy left a couple of weeks ago. I still hear what she said, still hear our last words to each other. We sat at our table in LuLu’s, our favorite place to eat. She’d had her favorite, the pulled pork pizza for one. I don’t remember what I had. Then, I never cared what I had. We talked like always. How was work. It sucked. I always lied, never told her how I felt. Never told her I didn’t care about work. About what I did, who I worked with. Nothing there mattered. I worked ‘cause I had to. Doesn’t everyone?

After we’d eaten, we sat at the table, and she said, “Let’s talk.”

I loved listening to her talk, so I nodded, and smiled, and got all excited about talking with her. But then, she didn’t talk about anything good. “Tell me what you feel.”

“What?”

“Tell me what you feel.”

“What I feel? About what?”

“Are you happy? Sad? What? How do you feel?”

“You’re here. I’m good.”

“And when I’m not here?”

Have you ever taken one step too close to the edge? Or climbed something you shouldn’t have? You know that feeling of pending disaster? Where you try to touch anything with your toes, and there’s nothing there?

“Well? How do you feel when I’m not here?”

“What am I supposed to feel?”

“How you feel.” Her frown scared me, I didn’t know what I’d done. “Don’t you know how you feel?”

I knew from her facial expression, she wanted an answer. An honest answer, and I knew what that meant, what that always meant. I couldn’t smile any more. “Empty.”

Rosy didn’t say anything, she didn’t have to.

I tried to breathe. “Secretly, I think you knew, didn’t you.” I was a statement, a declaration, me saying, “I know, this is where everything ends.”

Rosy nodded. “How? Why?” She didn’t look sad, or upset. She looked disappointed. “Is there anything to you?”

“No.” I couldn’t lie to her. Hell, I’d tried lying. It never worked. It just made everyone angry. “No.”

Empty, I’d told her. I didn’t feel anything. She’d left me sitting at the table. Her side of the table empty, like me. I paid, of course. I wandered home, eventually.

Now? Now I wait. Through endless empty time. For someone to offer me a thread of life. Just a thread. That’s all I want. Is that so much to want? Is it?

454 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this in response to the prompts and song for this weeks #FlashMobWrites Flash Fiction challenge. The weekly challenge is hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories in this week’s challenge.