Flash Fiction Friday: What The Hell?

This weeks prompt was to write a story under 900 words where you make a deal with the devil. Hundreds of cliche crossroads stories came to mind and I smothered them all swiftly, deciding to take a more…philosophical route I suppose. Enjoy!

What The Hell?
When all was said and done, he appeared. Not in some grand flash of brilliance. Not in the way you’d expect from a B level horror flick with clouds engulfing all remaining moonlight and the ground rotting beneath you. No flames. No huge pit suddenly appearing in the ground with him climbing from it in some flaming brilliance.

Nothing. He stepped in from just outside my peripheral vision as if he’d been standing there the entire time. Ever noticed how Batman just pops up on people? Yea, something like that. For such a serious occasion, he was dressed quite casually: Khakis, loafers, and a shirt that read “SOMETHING AMAZINGLY CLEVER AND POSSIBLY IRONIC”. For nearly extinct plants, old family photos, and a bit of my blood, I was expecting at least a shirt and tie.

His voice was surprisingly subtle when he finally spoke. “Can we take a seat over here?” It was a sweet-talk-you-right-over-a-cliff type voice. I found myself walking over to two conspicuously placed chairs on the side of the road with a table in between. They definitely weren’t there a couple minutes ago. Sad that it took the unexplained appearance of furniture to do so, but I began to believe this was the real deal. We both took a seat and a woman in waitress wear you’d catch in an early 80s diner walked up to us.

“Coffee please.” That unexpected aloof tone again. The coffee began to form on the table as the waitress wrote it in her notepad. He stared at me with a smirk as the waitress turned and waited for my order.

“Nothing, thanks.” The smirk immediately disappeared as the woman walked away.

“Not impressed?” He grabbed his coffee and sipped, watching me over the rim of the seemingly well aged black mug.

“Why not simply make the coffee appear? Why the waitress?”

“I’m a fan of the era. Believe it or not I don’t get to make this trip often, so allow me to indulge a bit.” He placed his cup down on the table and leaned back in his chair, crossing his legs matter-of-factly.

“Fine, whatever. Can we get to business?” That brought that devious smirk right back. A black journal appeared in his hands along with a pen and he prepped himself to write.

“What can I do for you Carmen?” When he spoke my name it was as if it was amplified in my hearing. It seemed to echo around and around for a few seconds.

“I actually don’t want to make a deal.” He looked up from the journal, letting his pen-equipped hand fall to the armrest.

“Don’t think I don’t appreciate the effort, I love an impromptu vacation, but what am I doing here then? It must have taken you a few months to find everything to bring me here, plus the harm to yourself. I can’t imagine you simply wanted to be blessed with my pleasant company.”

“I have a theory.” His journal snapped shut, his legs uncrossed, and air exited his lungs in a huff.

“As does everyone.” He lit a cigarette I didn’t even catch him materialize and then crossed his legs again. “Speak.”

“Its that easy?” He cut his eyes at me and a sense of dread fell over me. The feeling grabbed hold of my lungs and my breathing stopped. I began to sweat from my brow and my hands suddenly became clammy. Then, he looked away and the feeling passed.

“I’m not exactly booked in a five star suite sweetheart. You went through the trouble. I can spare a few minutes.”

“Well, I believe there’s truly no definite ‘evil’ to ‘good’ when it comes to God and his angels.” I paused, watching his face for any reaction. When it seemed there would be none, I continued. “I think God developed a plan to sway the good in people after realizing, when left to their own devices, their curiosity would develop into greed and chaos would ensue.”

At the last sentence, he brought his eyes to level with mine and held his cigarette at bay. “That’s quite an interesting theory, to be sure. You’ll be proud to know that its a first for me personally. I’ll have to ask around when I get back.”

“I’m not done.”

“Oh I figured. What was this ‘plan’?”

“Somehow, it came up that there must be a counter to God. Most likely, Lucifer, the most selfless of the angels, decided he’d play the role of all encompassing ‘evil’. This way, humans have things to place faith in and place blame upon.” I noticed a slight flinch in his smirk and continued on. “Angels come down to earth and influence us with contradicting stories and texts, essentially scaring most straight. Earth itself is the true Hell.”

“The Bible?” He asked as he lifted the coffee to his lips.

“There are better stories written than that.” He laughed at this suddenly, wasting some coffee on this shirt. As he attempted to wipe it away I caught the tail end of his muttering as he said ‘…get a kick out of that’.

“Well, that’s quite the cute theory but I only deal in deals. I’m not an information broker. Today at least.”

“Make me a deal then.” I gazed into his dark eyes and he returned my gaze, showing no kind of emotion. There was a long pause that lasted maybe only a few seconds but felt like hours.

“If you’re wrong. I kill you here.”

“I’ve got nothing to lose in this world. Deal.”

“Then we must shake on it.” We both stood and the coffee cup and furniture disappeared. I held my hand out to him, my life being weighed against the validity of a theory I’d spent years pondering over. I’d given up on life long ago, this was all I had left. I truly have nothing to lose.

He took my hand and yanked me in close with a devious grin on his face. He took his free hand and ran it through my long black hair. I closed my eyes and held my breath, waiting for one of those cliche movie moments to happen. Fire, brimstone, darkness. He let go of my hand and I opened my eyes to the 80s waitress.

“Change your mind about ordering sweety?”

Flash Fiction Friday: When The Clock Strikes

A sudden wind swept up a dust cloud, adding to the sullen atmosphere and obscuring onlooker’s vision. The two men drawing the crowd’s attention stood forty yards apart, feet planted firmly with their right hands poised to grab their revolvers as soon as the bells rang. At the top of the hour, the world would be without one of the greatest gunslingers in Oklahoma.
***
It was only a matter of time before we met. Every pull of the trigger, every shot, every man defeated was merely a means to reach him, my father’s murderer. Each duel he took part in was another chance I may not be the one to kill him. But he lives. He probably doesn’t even remember my father, just another man. The best shot in the west. I’ll never forget seeing sunlight reflected into my dad’s eyes just as guns were drawn.
***
I remember clear as day. My own dreams remind me constantly. Confident as ever, Rick Faust standing across from me. My greatest adversary and only rival. I remember the bell. I remember seeing the light shine into his eyes. I remember his gun going off split seconds before mine. I remember his son shouting as his father fell backwards to the ground, my bullet having found his chest and his bullet having found wind. Seems William Whitestone wanted Rick dead for holding up his expansion. Rick wouldn’t sell some land he had out east of Norman and Whitestone figured he could coax the wife out of it with Rick dead. I didn’t think he’d do it this way. There’s no honor in that. Then again, Whitestone was no honorable man.
Now I stand across from Rick Jr. There’s no way he knows the truth of things. Been avoiding his challenges for months now, dueling those Whitestone had in his pocket. Each win weakened Whitestone’s grasp and lightened the guilt on my shoulders. Each win probably bringing this young man’s anger to a boil.
“Hold up a sec there boys.”
Whitestone and three of his bodyguards exit out of a house off to my left. Two of the guards had rifles trained on me, the other aimed at Faust.
“Now, you didn’t think I’d miss this lovely opportunity to get rid of two of the biggest thorns in my rear end this side of Oklahoma, did you? No worries there Deveaux, I won’t need no fancy mirrors to remove this here Faust. I think a more direct route is in order.”
The hearty laughter brought with it 6 more men coming out with weapons aimed at us: A couple atop the saloon’s second floor balcony, the rest across from the house Whitestone emerged from. Seems they waited amongst the crowd. Whitestone’s devilish grin was evident under his dusty black bowler. The grin always reached his eyes. He genuinely took pleasure in the demise of others. I see the confusion on Rick’s face change slowly into understanding, then into a seething anger.
Ding
Faust takes the first shot, clipping one of the men on the balcony. His speed reminds me of his father, but I can tell he’s never killed a man. I pull both my own revolvers and hit two of the four men to my right. The townspeople all hit the ground or dash for cover.
Ding
I hit the second man on the balcony and one of Whitestone’s guards while Faust hits the last two on my right. He’s turning for Whitestone when a bullet shatters his left shoulder.
Ding
I hit one of the guards dead center and Faust, not letting the pain hold him back, hits the third.
Ding
Whitestone is cowering now, his previous arrogance no longer evident. That same arrogance left him unarmed and alone now. Faust starts to walk toward Whitestone, blood pouring from his clipped wing. I keep my guns out, making sure these were the only men Whitestone brought along. Whether they were the last or the remaining were simply cowards, no one else made a move.
***
“Please young man. I can offer you anything you want. Anything at all! Women, land, money. Speak it and its yours.
I looked into the eyes of the man behind the death of my father. The man that pushed my mother to the edge, where she took the easy way out and left me behind. The anger I’d kept bottled up for Deveaux was now completely focused into him. One flinch, and I’d leave his thoughts on the wood behind him. He’d never plot another death, swindle another family, or feel the warmth of a woman. I still didn’t think it’d be enough.
“Don’t become what he his son,” says Deveaux as he walks up behind me with Marshall John.
“I’m not your fucking son.”
“I know. I can never replace your father. Neither can Whitestone’s death. You’d be showing him a great mercy if you kill him now. Let him suffer. Everyone out here heard what he said and has seen what he tried today. He’ll never escape his crimes and jail is hell for one who’s lived such a soft life.”
He was right. I knew it, but I didn’t want him to be. This man had taken everything I’d ever known away from me just for a piece of land. I’d lived thinking that my father would want the man responsible six feet under, but then I thought of my mother. The pain she experienced when my father died. The downward spiral she went through. I hope Whitestone experiences something remotely close.
“Marshall. Get this piece of shit behind bars.”

Flash Fiction Friday: The Outsider

The Outsider
                This lake is part of my fondest memories. Fishing with dad, my first kiss, racing my friends across the water.  Out here I can forget the rest of the world. Now, I want her to be here with me when I escape from it all. Her accepting my proposal is the next memory I want to create here, hopefully amidst many more she’ll share with me.
                Early this afternoon, I prepared the food we’d have and set up a table close to the water.  Now, with the sun’s last rays falling on us, we arrived. The sight of the setting sun through the trees is breathtaking. Yet, even the golden strands reflected off the water pale in comparison to her golden hair.  I park in view of the table and candles.
“Casanova.”
“The night is young.”
I open her door and lead her to the table. I grab the food and spread it out for us. Chicken Parmesan, salad with vinaigrette, and one cupcake. It’s not much, but it’s what’s in the cupcake that matters. While eating, I’m distracted by movement in the trees, but it’s too dark to see. I’m drawn back in by her biting into the cupcake.
“What did you put in thi…..oh my…”
She freaks and practically dives into me.  It’s so unexpected I fall sideways with her in my arms. Then, she attacks me with kisses.
           “I love you so much!” Kiss. “I never even knew!” Kiss. “I almost broke my freakin tooth!” Kiss, kiss, kiss.
I laugh during her barrage with my arms wrapped around her. That’s when I heard the footsteps.
“Looks like you’re having a good time, boy.” 
           Kym rolls off of me and I sit up. Three guys stand about ten feet from us, all in torn denim and t-shirts.  The one who spoke has on a crimson and white cap. My eyes are on the hunting rifles.
           “Now what would your parents think of you mixing up with his kind?” He asks with the strangest sincerity. 
“Fuck off.” Good ole Kym.
I climb to my feet and help her up. Then the three men start walking toward me. 
“Got nothing to say, ni..”
I punch cap-man square in the mouth, ending his statement for him. Dumb move. The guy on the right tags me in the ribs, bringing me to my knees. Out of nowhere, Kym punchs the guy on the left and he shoves her back into me. He then pointed his gun at her, but cap-man snatched it from him.
“Calm down.” He wiped a bit of blood from his mouth. “Heh. We’ll have some fun fir…”
           He’s cut off by something huge hitting the water. Hard. A mist starts to rain down on us and I try to take advantage of the distraction. As soon as I reach for Kym, though, the other guy aims at me.
“Don’t move boy.”
          I put my hands up and try to make out what hit the water, but it’s too dark. We all stand in silence for a few seconds, then a sound rings out. It reminds me of a door opening in Star Trek. A dim light shines from what’s in the water and something climbs out. Its skin looks oil-like. Its arms don’t have hands at the end, more like tentacles.
“What is that?”
         Cap-man raises his rifle, but the ship’s light goes dark right before he pulls the trigger. Doesn’t sound like he connects, but then I notice splashing on the water’s surface, with each splash coming closer together. And getting louder.  It was running toward us.
“Run!” I yell.
         Right then, it runs past the table, grabs cap-man’s friends, and flings them toward the lake. Then it just stands there. None of us make a move.
“Ron…..what is it?” Kym says.
        Then, as if reacting to her voice, it dashes toward her. I barely move my arms before she’s snatched out of my vision, me and the cap-man left in a sphere of darkness while her screams get further away. I suppress a scream of my own as something dawns on me.
        I look at cap-man and terror is in his eyes. His eyes flicker from me to the direction she was taken in. Back and forth. Then he brings his hands to his mouth, signifying he’s come to the same conclusion I have; It only reacts to what it hears. He stares into my eyes. Then he hands me one of his guns. I guess we’re in this together.

Flash Fiction Friday: Too Soon

Taut and alert, she laid in bed with a cell phone in one hand and a candlestick in the other. With her eyes closed, she listened for the ­sounds of arrival. She listened for things signaling Jeff’s return: The rattle of his keys and the wood upon wood struggle as he displaced and replaced the shelves and drawers used to barricade the front door. She also listened for the tell-tale sounds of less welcome company. It had been two days since they’d heard from anyone at all and she was beginning to lose hope. Jeff had left for food and supplies only a couple hours ago, driving home the fact that it’d be easier for him to avoid attracting attention if he was alone, but Joseph and Laura had been gone far longer in their search for more survivors.
The cell phone was on its last bar and she realized that it’d probably die before she heard from anyone, so she tossed it the side and sat up. Her eyes were heavy, lack of sleep evident around the edges. Jeff had urged her to stay awake while he was away and her mind and body both were paying for it. The previous night’s restlessness had her tired enough as is. 
                After about 5 minutes of staring into the candlelight’s flame and lulling herself right into a red-orange tinted daydream, she heard the unmistakable jingle of keys. She started toward the bedroom door, but then she heard one of the shelves fall over. Jeff was extremely careful, obsessive even. She’d watched him meticulously place each piece of furniture so the setup would make the least noise possible when moved. She calmed herself down, thinking he may have simply slipped.
“Ash…get out.”
She froze. A million thoughts raced through her head. She couldn’t grab hold of what was going on.
“Out!”
She blew out the candle and grabbed the stainless .45 off the dresser. She stood away from the door, her back against the wall next to a boarded up window. She heard a low grunt, followed by the sound of wood against wood. Then footsteps started up the hall toward the bedroom. She aimed at the door, gripping the gun just loose enough, just like Jeff taught her. What could have gone wrong? Jeff wouldn’t have opened the door with the dead men after him. He would have lost them amongst the other houses like they talked about……unless he didn’t see it coming. We don’t know how fast these things really are.
I can’t get bitten by one of them.
She remembered watching from the window when all hell broke loose. The people fighting each other for their cars and the people hit by those same cars. Nothing was worse than the people getting fed upon. The things would catch them in an iron grip and bite into their flesh. Then the people would scream and topple over backwards as their life drained from them.
I don’t want to change.

            She remembered those same people would clumsily stand up and fall into step inciting chaos. They’d attack the same scarred onlookers that had just watched in horror as fathers, mothers, cousins, girlfriends, and mere acquaintances were killed, only to rise up again.

 I can’t die like that.

            She remembered squeezing Jeff’s arm while Laura and Joseph made a pact to shoot themselves before having those monsters bite them. She slowly brought the gun to her own temple, her hand shivering uncontrollably.

I won’t die that way
The door slowly began to open. 
“Just kid….”
Blam!