Dead Connection – 100 word story

You get down into some of these third-world countries and the tech is thirty years behind; this airport had a pay phone.

There’s weight to the sound of a real phone bell you don’t get with a cell. I heard the ringing from far away and ran to it.

Saturday afternoon. Civilians everywhere. A mother gripped her son by the arm and bawled, “Mind me!”

Another ring.

I shoved through. “Down! Down! Down!” I said and a little girl landed on her butt and slid.

A man picked up the handset and the phone detonated.

 

 

 

100 word story for Friday Fictioneers. Photo credit: © J Hardy Carroll

Hide and Seek – 100 word fiction

Louie had a drink waiting for me.

“Don’t mind if I do.”

He nodded. “New hat?”

I removed it and laid it on the bar. “Twelve bucks.”

Louie whistled. “Must be nice.”

“Big money in detective work. Nothing but fur coats and limousines.”

The grin died on his face. “Fat Rico was in asking about you.”

“What did you say?”

“Told him I didn’t know nothing but it looks like he figured it out on his own.”

Fat Rico stood in the doorway.

“Do me another favor, Louie,” I said, nodding at the hat. “Put that somewhere safe, will you?”

 

The Wrong Guy – 100 word flash

The punch fell from the sky like a bolt of lightning, catching me on the forehead and driving me backwards. I laid down, rested my head on the curb, and watched the tops of the buildings. The brickwork looked peaceful up in the sky with the fluffy clouds. I liked it.

“That’s not him, Mikey!” someone said.

“No?” a bigger voice asked.

A hand that matched the bigger voice went into my jacket and took my wallet. “Sorry buddy,” the voice said while the hand took my cash and dropped the wallet on my chest. “Guess I owe you one.”

Bloodbath Blues – Flash Fiction

It was one of the nicer houses on its block which is to say three or four of the windows still held glass and the yard had been mowed at some point over the past year. The front door sagged from twisted hinges over a foot-wide chasm where the porch fell away from the house. There might have been a shutter still dangling that hadn’t yet fallen into the weeds. It was a nice place.

Klein was talking to reporters out front. I nodded and ducked the yellow tape.

I managed to bridge the gap between porch and house without snapping my leg off, walked inside, and retched at a stench that might have been rotting maggots fermenting in the sun.

A broad L-shaped staircase brought me up to a second-floor hallway. There were four bedrooms here, two on each side. Filthy mattresses and greasy sleeping bags were sacked around on the floors. Bottles, cans, and cigarette butts were everywhere. Drying puddles of bodily fluids added to the ambiance.

A bathroom about the size of a teacup stood at the end of the hallway with its door open. Sweeney and McGregor were inside looking at blood spatter.

Sweeney saw me and his eyes changed. He hissed something at McGregor who waddled over and pressed a meaty palm into my chest.

“Hold up, Joe.”

I stopped.

“Sweeney thinks you should sit this one out.”

Sweeney stepped up and laid an arm around my shoulder. “Joe! How you been?”

I looked at Sweeney. Then at McGregor. I looked at Sweeney again. “What is this?”

Sweeney paused and mumbled something to the floor and I put it together.

“You don’t want me to see her.”

Sweeney tried to guide me back towards the steps. “Let’s go down, Joe. You should be sitting for this.”

“Who is she?” I asked, trying to squirm free.

Sweeney and McGregor blocked my path. “Hold up a minute,” McGregor said.

My mouth was dry. A bead of sweat slid down my back. I didn’t like my new heart rate. “Get your mitts off me. Let me see.”

Sweeney exhaled. “Joe…” He and McGregor exchanged a look. “Listen, there’s no easy way to do this. Nothing I say is going to prepare you. Maybe I should just let you see for yourself if that’s how you want to play it.”

From far away I heard myself tell him it was. My heart triple-timed. Sweeney said more but I heard it the way you hear the television as you drift off to sleep. He and McGregor stepped aside. I floated down the hall and I was in the bathroom, kneeling by the tub. The woman was young, maybe still a girl. She was sprawled on her back, bare arms dangling over the sides of the tub, blood still dripping from a fingertip.

She was clothed which struck me as unusual. Her short shorts and sleeveless t-shirt were sopped. Blood was smeared across her face and neck, smeared across her teeth. The skin that wasn’t painted bloody was a bruised yellow turquoise. Her lips were grey. Her hair, blonde at one time, was red and black and matted. I studied her face. Then, I turned to Sweeney: “So? Who am I looking at?”

Sweeney’s eyes narrowed and he furrowed his brow. “You don’t know?”

“Never seen her before.”

Sweeney looked to McGregor.

“Look again,” McGregor said.

I turned back and the girl was sitting. She shrieked at me, wild-eyed and hysterical. I shrieked back. She lunged for me and I was on my feet with my gun out. Sweeney and McGregor threw themselves at me. They took hold of my arm as the gun fired. It sounded like an atomic bomb in that little room.

They pinned my wrist to the wall above my head and held it there. They were blocking the girl. I couldn’t see the girl! Someone was screaming and screaming. I closed my mouth and the screaming went away. Sweeney’s contorted face swam in front of me. He was insistent, barking orders, trying to reach me. My ears sang.

“…a gag,” Sweeney was saying, distant and tinny. “Not real. It isn’t real…” His face was shiny and pasty. His eyes looked insane.

We stood this way for several seconds. Finally, McGregor tilted his head, squinted at me, and released my wrist. He turned to the tub. Sweeney let go and I had my arm back.

The girl was on her side in the the tub with her hands over her ears and her knees pulled up tight. She was shivering, frantic, talking to herself. Sunlight streamed in through a fresh bullet hole in the wall. My bullet couldn’t have missed her head by more than six inches.

I stumbled to the hall, found a place to slide down the wall, and sat on the floor. I laid my gun beside me. My pants were wet. Sweeney knelt by the tub and comforted the girl.

McGregor came out and sat beside me. Neither of us spoke for a long time. He picked lint off his pants. Finally, he said: “I tried to warn him, Joe, but you know how he is. I told him it was too much.” He turned, appraised me frankly, shook his head, and returned to the lint. “Great gag.”

My voice was hoarse and thin. “What happened?”

McGregor sighed at his pants. “The girl is his niece. She’s taking some acting courses at the community college. This whole thing came about when she told Sweeney her acting could fool a cop.”

I considered this for a while. “Makeup?”

McGregor nodded once. “Everybody was in on it. The reporters are actors. Sweeney wanted to get back at you for that stunt you pulled with the pizza delivery guy.”

I smiled ruefully. “Mission accomplished.”

The girl bet him $10 she could convince you she was dead,” McGregor said. “Looks like she won.”

I shook my head. “The blood didn’t smell. There was too much of it not to smell. I knew it felt wrong, I just couldn’t – I couldn’t quite…”

McGregor shook his head again. “Sweeney.”

“Let’s hope the girl isn’t in shock.”

“She’ll come around. Listen, Joe, you’re not gonna…you know…report this, are you? Sweeney and me and Klein, we could lose our badges.”

I shook my head. “What is this trash heap anyway?”

“Crack house, maybe? Smack? I dunno, ask Sweeney. I’m just here because he told me to be.”

I nodded and climbed unsteadily to my feet. I felt ninety years old.

“What are you gonna do?” McGregor asked.

“Going home for dry skivvies.”

McGregor nodded and returned his attention to the the lint on his pants. “Sweeney,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Father’s Day Miracle – 100 Word Story

It was the fire that taught Jeff about miracles. After all, he shouldn’t have been there – Jeff never visited on Wednesdays. “Maybe I’ll see what the old man’s doing,” he’d said and when he pulled into the drive, the house was engulfed.

Reflecting, Jeff doesn’t know if his father would have escaped – so frail was he when Jeff found him, barely visible through the smoke. Jeff’s eyes shimmer. He smiles, grateful. He sees again his hands gripping the skinny ankles, hears anew the screams as he drags his father back into the flames. “Better safe than sorry,” Jeff whispers aloud.

Mr. Chester Goes Missing – Short Short

Agnes took my hand in hers, her eyes desperate and pleading. “You’ll look for him on your meter route?”

“Of course,” I assured her. I laid my free hand on hers and patted. “I promise.”

“And you think you’ll find him?” she asked eagerly.

I took off my cap, ran a hand through my hair, and chose my words with care. “Agnes, I read every electric meter in town; I see every back yard. It’s just a simple matter of timing, I need to be in the right place at the right time.”

She blinked. Then, she sniffed and nodded, her eyes shimmering. “I know you’ll do your best,” she whispered.

“I’ll talk to everyone I see,” I assured her. “He’s a distinctive little cat and someone’s bound to see him. If you don’t mind, I’ll take a picture of this photo with my phone. It will give me something to show people.”

She nodded and said without hope: “That’s a good idea.”

I held my phone where she could see it. “See? It’s really clear. Anyone who has seen Mr. Chester will recognize him from this picture. Do you have any social media accounts?”

She sighed. “My daughter set something up for me but I couldn’t figure it out. I don’t use it.”

“Well,” I said, “I’ll post this picture and a description and ask my friends to share it. This town isn’t that big. There are only so many places a cat can hide, especially a Persian like Mr. Chester. I’ll post it on the village hall’s page and a few others too. Posters would be good too but…”

She looked up at me. “But what?”

“Well,” I said, uncomfortable. “Posters cost money.”

She blinked again. “Money? Oh, don’t worry about that. Harold left me well taken care of.”

“Ok, good,” I said. “I don’t think they’re too expensive. Probably $100 would buy a bunch of them.”

She dismissed this with a wave.

“You said he went missing how long ago?” I asked.

“Tuesday,” she said with a feeble smile. “Tuesday at dusk.”

Three days. “No time to lose,” I said.

Suddenly, a light dawned in her eyes and it animated her whole face. She smiled big and hopeful. “A reward!” she said. “I’ll offer a reward for Mr. Chester!”

I took her hand and patted it as I spoke. “That’s the best idea so far. Now, I don’t want you to get your hopes too high but nothing motivates people to do the right thing quite like money. How much were you thinking?”

“I don’t know,” she said, her eyes round. “I wouldn’t have the slightest idea. How much are most pet rewards?”

“I think it depends,” I said. “Some people spend twenty bucks and some can afford more. I imagine if Kim Kardashian lost her cat, she’d cough up a hundred grand without a second thought. It’s really up to you.”

“Ten-thousand,” she said.

“What?”

“Ten-thousand. I’ll offer a ten-thousand-dollar reward.”

My mouth was dry. “For – for a cat?” I stammered.

She gave me a look. “Not just any cat. Mr. Chester! Ten-thousand dollars and I’ll hand it over joyfully.” She added: “And I’m paying you for your time; don’t think for a second I’m not.”

I shook my head. “Agnes I’m not helping you for – ”

She waved me off again. “Tweet Mr. Chester’s picture on your computer Face-business and let me think of the details for the posters.”

I nodded and got to work.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Print Shoppe and passing out flyers of the cat. We hung them in the post office, grocery store, village hall, library. Nobody had seen Mr. Chester. By the time we got back to Agnes’ house, it was getting dark out. She was despondent.

I stood with her under the porch light and said: “Tomorrow’s a new day. We’re not licked yet.”

She smiled and thanked me with sad eyes, went inside, and pulled the door closed softly behind her.

Later, when I opened the door to my apartment, the stench nearly bowled me over. I gagged my way to the living room to find my roommate, Jersey, sprawled out on the couch, watching a game show in a pair of green underwear.

“Have you even moved since last night?”

“’Sup?” he asked the television.

“It’s on for tomorrow,”

He sat up now, suddenly interested. “Yeah?”

“You won’t even believe it.”

“How much?” he asked, rapt.

“Ten-thousand.”

He stood up and bawled: “Ten-thousand!”

“Dead serious,” I said. “You haven’t fed that thing, have you? We want him mangy and malnourished like he’s been wandering for days.”

“Oh, he’s mangy and hungry, don’t worry about that,” Jersey said. “Nasty little bastard.” He held out his arm. It was crisscrossed with ragged, bloody scratches.

I held out a poster. “Tomorrow morning take this and that stinky rat over to the old lady’s house and tell her you found him behind the laundromat. She’ll probably bake you a cake.”

Jersey snatched the poster away and , for an instant, I didn’t like the look in his eyes. I said: “You know, I’m splitting this with you right down the middle even though I did all the work.”

He stared at the poster and didn’t reply.

“Don’t get any cute ideas about taking it all,” I said. I started down the hall to my room and added over my shoulder: “And clean that raunchy litter box before the health department raids us.”

I padded into my room, shut the door to keep the stench out, and stretched out on the bed. “I think I’ll blow off the meter route this month,” I told myself with a smile. I reached over, clicked off the lamp, and fell asleep.

Goodnight, Ugbert – Really Short Story

Mama noticed I was crying when she came to tuck me in.

“Papa said I was unusual,” I told her.

She sat on the side of the bed and caressed my face, drying my tears. “That wasn’t a very nice thing for Papa to say, was it?”

I shook my head. She sighed and looked at me for long minutes ruffling my hair and petting my face.

“Just remember this when you have children,” she said. “Remember that words can hurt too.”

I nodded and she sang me a lullaby. Then she smiled and said, “You know, Papa wasn’t wrong. You really are a weird little bastard.”

I drifted off to sleep. Mama always knew just what to say.