Tag Archives: Flash fiction

2172. Amputation

It took some convincing but Angelina finally consented to have her leg amputated. The doctor had said “Leave it on and you die; cut it off and you live”. So after much thought, and quite a bit of almost unbearable pain, Angelina gave her consent.

It was just a shame they cut off the wrong leg.

2073. Knit knit

Theodora loved to knit. Most evenings, after the evening meal and the dishes were done, she would sit in an armchair with the television turned on, and knit. She knitted to relax. She knitted mainly for other people; pullovers, and scarves, and hats, and mittens, and socks. She was a good knitter. You couldn’t tell the difference between her knitted item and a bought one. And she liked to knit stylish things that looked to be the latest in fashion.

“Who knitted this?” asked the Managing Director of Homeknits Ltd (the largest home-knitting company in the world, although most was done by machine). He had stopped a passer-by in the street who was wearing a beautiful pullover which had been a gift from Theodora.

Before you could say “Bob’s your uncle” Theodora was hired to hand knit items for Homeknits Ltd (the largest home-knitting company in the world, although most was done by machine). She worked for eight hours a day. It had one advantage: she could work from home.

After two years Theodora quit her job. She never knitted a thing again in her life. Nothing can destroy a hobby more than a job.

2044. Things are rarely what they seem

Devin didn’t think much of Travis; in fact he hated him. Devin knew he had been the topic of a school board meeting, and Travis (who was the school principal) was the one who had brought the topic up: Devin was teaching stuff in science that Travis didn’t like. Devin’s classroom had to be purged of Devin.

It was near the end of the school year. It was decided that Devin’s contract would not be renewed. Travis would inform Devin after the end of year teachers’ “party”. But somehow Devin had found out in advance.

Devin got a syringe, filled a little bottle with poison, and creeping into Travis vegetable garden at night, managed to inject all the tomatoes with the concoction. Whipty-do! All that Devin need do now was to sit around and wait for Travis and his family to kick the bucket.

Nothing happened. No one died. No one even got sick. The end of year teachers’ party was held. Devin was informed by Travis that his services were no longer required in the next academic year. Devin wasn’t sure if his seething hatred was because of the dismissal or because of the ineffective poison. He was livid. Next time he wouldn’t get it wrong. Travis was a goner.

A day later, Devin got a gun. He loaded it. He got in his car and headed for Travis’ house. He drove fast. He drove impetuously. He drove dangerously. He had an accident and was killed.

The funeral, held in the school’s gymnasium, was huge. Travis spoke of the tragic loss to the school of a good and talented teacher of science; in fact, they were naming the new science block after him.

2035. The secret agent

Mariana was a student at university. She was approached by a young man whom she had never met before. He asked if they might have a conversation in private and with the greatest confidence. Mariana agreed and said maybe they could go to the café for a coffee. At least other people would be about and she would feel more comfortable.

The young man was very pleasant; in fact quite charming. He was quite good-looking too Mariana thought. He agreed to the coffee and off they went. He said he worked as an undercover agent within the university. He only pretended to be studying myrmecology. He had no intention of becoming a myrmecologist. He needed someone, a complete stranger, to do a small task. Would Mariana be prepared to help?

Mariana said she would, depending of course on what the task might be and how time consuming. After all, she had her exams in edaphology coming up in a month.

The task, said Max (for that was his name), is simply to go to a particular student party, casually approach a specified person, and say a pre-set phrase. They would hand you an envelope. She was to bring it to this same café at eleven the next morning and give it to him.

That was simple! The secret phrase was “Do you wear pyjamas in bed or nothing at all?” and the specific person was a man.  He would be wearing a white shirt with rolled sleeves, light blue jeans with patches, and have one of those old-fashion windup watches on his wrist. The party was this evening.

The room at the party was quite crowded. Mariana wandered around the party-goers for quite some time looking for her man. It was quite difficult because there were a lot of students at the party that she knew of course, and they all wanted her to stop and talk about nothing. The trouble was that there seemed to be two men in the room with white shirts and rolled up sleeves, patched jeans, and a wrist watch. Mariana approached the one she thought looked the most like a spy.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi”, he said.

“Do you wear pyjamas in bed or nothing at all?”

“WTF?” said the young man but not in abbreviated form. And then he repeated in a louder and cynical voice, “Do I wear pyjamas in bed or nothing at all?”

“Shhh! Sorry,” said Mariana. Clearly she had picked the wrong one of the two. It was rather embarrassing. She approached the second guy.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi”, he said.

“Do you wear pyjamas in bed or nothing at all?” whispered Mariana.

They guy pulled a small envelope from his back pocket and handed it to her. It wasn’t sealed. “Make sure you read what’s inside,” he said.

Mariana took out the slip of paper inside the envelope and read it:

 “Happy 21st Birthday, Mariana!”

The whole room burst into “Happy Birthday dear Mariana”.

“We knew if we told you,” said Mariana’s friend Angelina stepping forward from nowhere, “we knew if you heard we were having your 21st birthday party that you’d say you had your edaphology exams coming up in a month. So we planned this.”

Then Max, the fellow who had initiated the whole scheme, announced that he didn’t wear pyjamas but would she like to meet in the café tomorrow at eleven anyway?

And that is how the myrmecologist and the edaphologist met and lived happily ever after.

2018. DIY murder

Everything costs money, and when Deidre discovered how much it was going to cost to have her husband murdered she decided to do it herself.

She knew that even a DIY murder was going to cost money. Fortunately she had a little nest egg stashed away which she had built up over time for this precise purpose. This murder wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. Now, where was I?

For starters, she had to purchase a gun. You can’t go and shoot someone using a gun you’ve just borrowed off a friendly neighbour. They might begin to suspect, especially since they lived next door. But Deidre didn’t want to go through all the hassle of getting a licence and goodness knows what. She would have to get her gun from some cheap outfit in a back alley.

Then there was the business of corpse disposal. These professional hitmen had their methods. They had done it many a time. But poor Deidre would have to shove Clive’s corpse into the back seat of her old 1977 LTD Ford and deposit the body in some secluded forest somewhere.

Then there was the cost of having to get the carpet cleaned – if in fact she were to pull the trigger in the living room. Quite frankly, Deidre ascertained, the cost of this DIY murder was getting to be as expensive as a professional job. But as Deidre was fond of say, “I shall stick to my guns”.

Her husband was such a happy person and so obliging. Deidre didn’t hate him, but she had had enough. She didn’t want him to die slowly. Seven years marriage was seven years. One can’t obliterate the memory of it with one bullet shot. Dear sentimental Deidre! She planned a final outing. They would go for a picnic to the lake.

It was while at the lake eating their tuna and lettuce sandwich that they stood next to the most beautiful waterfall. It hurtled down the cliff below them in a most dramatic manner.

“Such power!” declared Clive.

“Such a precipice!” declared Deidre.

She gave him a little push. It was free.

2017. The murderer was blond

It is possible that the day Freda was murdered was probably not the best day of her life. Her day had started so well. Being a famous novelist had its perks; one could work from home at an unflustered pace; one could (especially with money from best-sellers) spend a little on luxuries here and there.

Freda had looked forward to this day for a while. It was the day she was intending to introduce the murderer into her murder mystery. There’s no hurry to do these things; a murderer should be saved and savoured. The murderer was to be a male with flaxen hair; fairly young and athletic; pleasant to the nth degree. It was a ridiculous assumption that inexperienced writers held, to turn their evil characters into wizened, ugly people with a hunched back, and drooling or dribbling at the mouth. How more dramatic it is to have the handsome hero turn out to be the wicked one!

The first thing Freda did (after sleeping in a little late) was to go out for brunch. The guy in the bakery where she purchased her Danish pastry was called Blondie. He was such a pleasant fellow.

“Have a nice day, Blondie,” Freda said.
“You too, Freda,” said Blondie cheerfully.

Freda devoured her purchase as she ambled along the street to the coffee shop. The guy in the coffee shop where she ordered her takeaway coffee was called Snow. He was such a pleasant fellow.

“Have a nice day, Snow,” Freda said.
“You too, Freda,” said Snow cheerfully.

On such a delightful sunny late morning Freda thought she would walk home the long way. There was no hurry. Perhaps she would call her murderer Blondie or Snow. And how best to do the murder? Perhaps the two of them were in league! Now, that was a good idea! And what would be the motive?

Freda arrived home and sat down to write; for the last time, I might add.

2016. Stuffed toys

Imelda wasn’t quite sure, but before she went to bed she had arranged her soft toys neatly on the shelf. There was a llama, two bears, a penguin, a little dog, and so on – all sitting next to a model of the Eiffel Tower. They were in a very specific order. She always placed them in that order when removing them from the bed. Just this once she may have put them in the wrong order before going to sleep, but she didn’t think so. It was a mystery.

“I don’t believe all this Tchaikovsky Nutcracker nonsense,” thought Imelda, “with toys coming to life in the middle of the night. Such a concept is the most puerile thing I could think of. Imagine an adult dabbling in such childish fantasy! Nutcracker! Nuts is right! There can be only two explanations for the toys to have moved: either I moved them in my sleep or someone came into the room while I slept.”

Imelda boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Beveridge. They were a pleasant couple. Of course Imelda had her own room, but she shared the main rooms of the house with the Beveridge’s; the dining room and kitchen, the sitting room, the bathroom. At breakfast, Imelda asked if anyone had gone to her room during the night, inadvertently or not. They swore they had never gone near.

“I must have sleep walked,” said Imelda. “I suppose you didn’t see me sleep walk?”

They hadn’t. The following two mornings saw the stuffed toys realigned again. Now Imelda was convinced they had been moved. She went to the shops and bought a little hidden camera that she quietly set up pointing at the toys. The next morning the toys were once again out of order. Imelda watched the recorded video.

My goodness me! Goodness me! She went straight to her computer and downloaded a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Heavenly! And so grounded in reality!

2010. Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year, apart from whose turn it was to cook the turkey, the Haslett family drew lots as to who would bring what on Thanksgiving. Over the years it had crumbled a little into abeyance because Olga always did the pumpkin pie. In fact she usually did two pumpkin pies. Even those who detested pumpkin pie thought that Olga’s pumpkin pie was to die for.

With her husband off work now with various shut-downs, money was a little tighter than usual so Olga was pleased that in an earlier time she had made some pumpkin purée and stored it in the freezer. Everyone else was a little hard-pressed for cash too, so they all jointly decided that they would make do with ingredients they could find without too much extra expense. Decima’s husband had an excellent vegetable garden so the responsibility for side dishes fell to Decima – although Stacey said she’d do a salad. It was Connie’s turn to do the turkey, and Arnie was an expert at concocting homemade apple cider.

All went hummingly. It was pumpkin pie time! It didn’t look quite right, but Olga said she had varied the ingredients a little according to budget demands. Oh dear! It turned out not to have been pumpkin purée at all, but carrot soup. Both are orange. Everyone screamed with laughter, but coupled with an extra glass or two of Arnie’s homemade apple cider, all agreed it tasted none-too-bad.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

2007. What to do?

(Just before today’s story! – a quick note to say that my childhood “autobiography” – Bits of a Boyhood – has been wonderfully reviewed by Iseult Murphy – HERE! She is the most prolific reader online and she posts many reviews that are well worth it. Thank you, Iseult! And so to today’s story:)

 

Francine didn’t know what exactly she had in mind when she said “I would very much like to have some time alone.” She had said that to her husband. She needed space. It’s not that he did anything untoward; it’s just that she needed the occasional break from his sporadic odd behaviour. He wouldn’t go to the doctor; possibly he didn’t need to go to the doctor, but Francine was not capable of diagnosing “what was going on”. For example, he would open and close a door four or five times before going through it. He didn’t always do that. Things like that went in “bouts”.

And that is why Francine needed to take the occasional break. This time however, things were different. He had taken his pet canary out of its cage and thrown it to freedom out the window. He had set the dishwasher going three times when there weren’t any dishes to wash. And now he was standing at the door between the sitting room and the dining room and opening and closing it and saying over and over “Come in! Come in!”

Francine consoled herself by joking that perhaps he was trying to welcome back his escaped canary.

Eventually she said, as she had said before, that he needed to go and see a doctor. But he answered (and he seemed quite normal and lovely in his answer) that he didn’t need to do that. There was nothing wrong with him. The stress was all in Francine’s head.

And that is when Francine said, “I would very much like to have some time alone”. Arnold said, “Alright then, why don’t you go for a walk?” So Francine put on her walking shoes and went for a long walk, and thought about things without coming to any conclusion.

When she got home Arnold was in the kitchen cooking some bananas in the oven. She asked him what he was doing and he said the television had said not to feed the dog raw meat.

“But bananas are not meat,” said Francine, “and we don’t have a dog.”

Anyway, by evening Arnold was back to normal. They watched a TV program together and had a normal conversation, and then Arnold went to bed.

Francine sat in the armchair wondering what to do. She honestly didn’t know what she should do next. If Arnold had dropped dead it would be sad of course but definite. Instead, everything was so “up in the air”.

2003. The fortunes of Mavis

It was no fault of Mavis that she was born with two noses. She had four nostrils. It didn’t seem to add to her sense of smell; in fact compared to some her smell appeared sometimes below par.

Some people were appalled at the sight of her, but it’s amazing what you can get used to with familiarity. It’s only ignorance that prevents people from looking beyond appearances. Yes, I suppose Mavis having two noses and four nostrils did make her ugly to look at and difficult to relate to, but underneath she had a sparkling personality and that’s what matters.

Not even having four ears could distract from her noses. She “cheated” a bit with her ears because she let her hair grow down over them and most people didn’t notice. It was only at secondary school when her calculating calculus teacher got scissors and cut Mavis’s hair off to illustrate a point about the number 4 that people began to realize that she had extra ears. “Spare ears” the calculus teacher called them. Again, having an extra two ears didn’t seem to add to her aural perceptions. In fact, to hear her sing was a clear sign that she was tone deaf.

To be fair, her tone deafness might not have been brought about by having four ears. It might have been caused by the fact that she had two tongues. She wasn’t (dear me, no) born with two tongues. She was late in starting to learn to talk so her father split her tongue in the manner (now banned) of splitting a magpie’s tongue to facilitate human speech in the magpie. It made little difference to Mavis. She was still a late developer when it came to speech and always spoke with a lisp.

It wasn’t so much her lisp that was annoying; it was her stutter. She had the most terrible stutter, and with a split tongue we had the odious obligation to sit patiently while she said everything twice.

It’s not impossible that by now you’ve heard enough about Mavis to get a picture of her. She had lots of other things of interest with her body as well, like a fifth arm that poked out of her neck. All that need be said is that Mavis’s luck changed around her twentieth birthday. A fairly insignificant artist – Pablo someone – asked her to pose for a painting. She did so, and has never looked back.