Flash Fiction

Samples of Flash Fiction that I have written for various contests since January 2012.

February 17, 2012

     Considering the conditions, it is not surprising I crashed. A twilight patrol through the farthest reserves of Yellowstone in winter is asking for trouble and, ranger or not, I should never have gone alone. 
     All I remember is the frozen floor of the valley rising to meet me at an alarming angle, and at a speed that suggests I crashed the snowmobile spectacularly - a death-inducing maneuver from which I should never have awakened as I did: sprawled upon the ice, shivering and blinking at the stars above me. 
     I shivered again, and sat up. In the near distance, a herd of bison watched from an exposed hillock, near a wind-blown tribe of arthritic conifers. I thought I remembered seeing them just before my world-tilting crash - just as they were now: waiting, silent, alert.
     Has no time passed? I wondered. I shifted on the ice, tried to ignore my chattering teeth - and nearly swallowed them in the next moment. 
     A body lay on the ice beside me, pinned by the upturned snowmobile.  Even before I stared into the ice-purpled face, I knew who it was.
     I can't be dead. I'm freezing cold, I told myself. 
     My death-self was blue and stiff. I shivered again. Ghost or not, I was cold - and naked, I realized with bleak humor. Worse and worse. 
     A dark shadow moved near me, and I jumped. One of the bison had moved away from its herd and stood before me, gilded in frost, questioning me with its fathomless eyes. Then it lowered its great horned head and spoke.
     "Welcome, She-Between-Rivers," he said. "We have waited long for you."
     I blinked.
     "My...name is Holly," I squeaked.
     The bison stamped a heavy fore-hoof. "You are She-Between-Rivers," he repeated. "We know who you are. Do you?"


Cooper and the Death-Cat
April 16, 2012

Moosie the death-cat made another circuit at Woolsey Nursing Home. She sniffed the air at each doorway, tufted ears pricked and tail swishing, before moving on to the next room. The overworked, checklist-choked staff sometimes second-guessed when death was near. Not Moosie. She always knew.
            “Tag on Judson, room nine,” said the aide to the nurse fumbling with her medicine cart.
            “Moosie’s in the door?”
            “No – on the bed.”
            On the bed. When Moosie took to someone’s bed – you called in the family.
            The nurse left her medicine cart in the hall and peeked in room nine. Beulah Judson was upright in her hospital bed, talking to her toes.
            “Don’t look at me like that. Cooper wouldn’t like it.”
            As usual, thought the nurse (they never had learned who Cooper was); but where’s Moosie?
            An angry hiss answered her from beneath the bed. There she was – under the bed, not on it. Her back was arched, fur bristling, tail straight as an arrow.
            “I’m not leaving yet. Cooper promised.”
            The nurse pricked up her ears. Beulah Judson wasn’t usually this lucid – even when she did talk to Cooper. And what was wrong with Moosie? This was not her usual bedside manner.
            Hiss. Scratch. YOWL. Scrambling beneath the bed – a blur of striped fur – and Moosie flew from the room, screeching like a banished demon.
            “Cooper! Leave the cat alone!” scolded Beulah.
            Another voice lilted through the room – a cool, sprightly voice that nonetheless sent chills up the nurse’s spine.
            “The cat was here to take you,” said the voice. “I thought you weren’t ready to leave.”
            “Damn you, Cooper - what took you so long? I’ve waited decades.”
            “Too many changelings, not enough children.”
            “I’m too old to changeling,” said Beulah, while the nurse looked wildly about for the source of the voice.
            “To have a changeling,” the voice – Is that Cooper? – said. “And you’re never too old to trick the Others. Do you want out?”
            “Hell yes,” said Beulah.
            “Then how will you leave?” said Cooper. “By death – or changeling? We could use you, you know.”

Twisted Wishes
July 9, 2012

NOTE: The following story was written in response to a three-tiered prompt that included the phrase: 
"This is not normal," the theme of "beating the devil at his own game," 
and this photo of a horrendously pink limo. 

Noraleen had two objectives: to repaint the limo ASAP, and ditch the damn fairy. Who asked him along anyway? And aren’t fairies all girls? This is not normal.
“So – antacid is your favorite color, yes?”
Noraleen glared across the limo at the creature she now considered her personal demon. He balanced over the bar, sampling each bottle, growing cockier with each sip.
 “You picked the color, you bat-winged twit. All I asked for was a way to get my sister to prom.” My sister, who never gets anything nice because it’s all used up before it gets to her.
            “Yes, we’ll get to her. Eventually.”
            The limo sped along the highway. With any luck, He-Tinkerbell hadn’t screwed up her first wish. Hopefully Sara was already trying on the prom dress Noraleen had wished for her.
            “Decided on a third wish yet? Three to a customer, y’know.”
            The limo turned down a gravel driveway. My driveway. Noraleen peeked at the driver. He looks human. If not, I have a license. You don’t need a CDL for limos, right?
* * *
            Everyone loved the silver “twisted fairy” torc Sara wore with her dress.
            No one more so than Noraleen.


Admit One: Behind the Curtain
October 4, 2012

The Queen’s vardo was the largest, its turquoise roof and red-and-yellow walls squatting cheerfully over stout wooden wheels. It sat at the rear of the gypsy encampment, beneath a fringe of dark trees. Embroidered curtains fluttered in the windows.

Lenuta* fled there at dusk, knowing the consequences if Metusca Anca** found her among gypsies: she would be locked in the cellar. Again.

Lenuta knocked on the bright door anyway. The Gypsy Queen answered promptly, looking at her – no, through her - with luminous eyes a touch too small for her exotic face. Quickly Lenuta showed her the thing that had brought her there: a small golden ticket with elegant script saying: Queen’s Circus – Admit One.

“Bought it off a boy at school,” she stammered when the Queen did not answer. “Traded my new apron for it.” - and was boxed soundly on the ears by Metusca Anca afterwards, she remembered. But she did not mention that.

Wordlessly, the Queen took the ticket and ushered her into the vardo, filled with shadows and heady scents, and an undercurrent of whispers, though Lenuta saw no one. Rich curtains hung all around the room. Deep pillows with fantastically embroidered designs covered the floor. Always the voices eddied out to her, muffled and insistent.

 “What sort of circus is it?” Lenuta realized now that Stelian had never quite said. She had assumed it was jugglers and dancing bears; clearly she was wrong.

The Queen took a ribbon from a low table. There was a flash of color, a flick of the gypsy’s wrist – and the ribbon encircled Lenuta’s neck, the ticket suspended from it as a tag on a dog’s collar. Lenuta pulled frantically at the necklace; but it was immovable as iron.

The choker tightened, forcing Lenuta along at the Queen’s beckoning. The gypsy cast aside a curtain, revealing a dark mirror that reflected nothing.

“I admit you to the Queen’s Circus.” The words turned Lenuta’s blood to ice. “You will perform for my King.”
The choker was too tight to admit words. Lenuta pulled harder at the ribbon, panic foaming in her chest. The mirror shimmered, its surface suddenly beribboned with pale mist.

“Stelian will keep you company.” The queen smiled. “Perhaps he will return your apron as well.”

Ghostly faces emerged from the mist.

“Time to perform!”

* Lenuta = Romanian; diminutive for "torch"

** Metusca = Romanian for "aunt"

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