27 November 2009

"Black" #Fridayflash

He’s a black man. Not dark as in brown-skinned, but black-souled. I can always tell just how they’ll taste with one little peek. Green makes for a crisp experience. Red makes me seethe with unexplained fury. Blue makes me smile and think of Sarah. The colors mean many things, and not many are pure black. When they are, my instructions from high up are damned clear: No redemption. No recycling. No anything. Just poof.

Black souls aren’t good for a fucking thing aside from deletion.

I follow him out the back screen door of the café, a paper folded under his arm, a To-Go cup full of Margaret’s Joe. Black coffee.

I slip my sleeve back from my watch. Five minutes and completely on schedule.

It’ll be a damned good favor to the world to take this one out. Cleaning up, balancing things out, but I tell you, when it’s an innocent…it chokes me up still.

My fault really; I got a little bit of heart left. It’s supposed to not be there anymore but sometimes, I can hear it beating. Maybe one or two thumps. Maybe ten. My guts tighten when I have to cut that thread on a kid. Or a sweet old lady. Death isn’t supposed to care about these things, but I do.

The dark man skirts around my car without as much as a glance. I smirk. The evil ones never can see very well. My car is special. She killed me a long time ago. I can’t explain how or why in five minutes.

Well four.

The dark man pauses at the corner to light a cigarette. I want one as well. I can smell his smoke and his coffee and I miss life. It pisses me off. I want to take him early.

A bus passes by, just like the script. The dark man crosses the street, and I follow. I glance back at the car. Her headlights are dim but getting brighter. An orange jack-o-lantern gaze. She’s alive but doesn’t breathe. I stopped asking why and just take the when.

Three minutes. He’s boring me. I wish I’d catch him doing one last wicked thing, so it wouldn’t feel like wasting time.

He strolls into the alley. He’ll probably start seeing me here in a few. People always react uniquely because I look different to each one. He stops midway and leans back against the brick. Convinced he’s still alone, he lets out a rapid-fire raunchy fart. I laugh, and then he looks right at me.

A spot spreads on the front of his grey slacks and a trickle of his urine pools beneath him. I reach for him, wrinkling my nose. He no longer smells like good coffee and cigarettes. He smells like the dying. His heart struggles against tightened arteries. A vein pulses in his forehead and his eyes bulge.

The black form inside him comes loose and wisps around his body sliding down the wall, the coffee overturned in urine, the cigarette extinguished.

Yellow and brown. I stare at the colors and miss his getaway.

The misty shape whirls, unaffected by the alley-breeze like me. He’s in my reach, but my hand closes around nothing.

A couple strolls by the alley’s exit. The girl is pregnant. The dark form flows seamlessly into her distended belly.

A pigeon is startled from sleep by my howl.

12 November 2009

"Half-Past-Huh?" #Fridayflash

The boss never said that the train would be exactly on time, but by the time my knees ached and begged for relief, it was half-past-midnight. Almost from ridiculous habit, I glanced down the silent tracks once more. The moonlight did not pass through the yellowed sodium-lights pissing all over the boarding station deck. I tugged at my tie and sat the briefcase down. The itinerary screamed the time expected in loud red numbers:

11:45 P.M.

It was now tomorrow, and there was no train. The sky rumbled in disagreement with itself, and forks of weak lightning fingered out along the clouds’ underbelly. A curtain of rain dropped like it was poured out of a bucket.

Far away, I heard the unmistakable whistle of the steam engine. A slight chuggachugga, like it was working uphill. I plucked up the case again, gripping the leather-covered handle tight. It was supposed to be cuffed to my wrist, but I’d forgotten the damn things at the motel. The combination locks gleamed on other side. I smiled, confident again, and stepped out into the rain.

The train churned the engine and the wheels worked furiously in the slick tracks. Around the corner, and then the cyclopean headlamp. It burned brighter as the beast neared, the ground beneath the platform shaking in response. As it approached, I could see the heavy dent in the boiler tank. The crushed smokestack. Smoke curled out from random holes in the thing and it came to a screeching, shuddering full stop several hundred meters past the boarding dock.

A woman screamed; I didn’t even know she was standing there. I eyed her standing there with her hands covering her mouth, and followed her terrified gaze.

Draped over the coal car, and half of the next two passenger cars, was a black shape, oily and writhing like a coiled snake, but it wasn’t one of those.

A great slotted eye the size of a dinner plate stared out at us, as my mind scrambled to piece together the entirety of the monster wrapped around and tethered to the partially-destroyed locomotive: A big, black, Giant Squid.

There was the torpedic head, the cat-golden eye, with about a dozen shredded and oozing tentacles hung over the machine. It squirmed, clearly uncomfortable or dying, maybe both.

The train station attendant left his post, (having no tickets to sell) and approached the platform, mouth agape. I took a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut. We had to remain calm, even if there was a cephalopod crushing the (11:45 P.M.) train. I cleared my throat.

“What about the passengers aboard?” I shook my head and started to put the briefcase down, then thought better of it. The rain smacked me on my cheeks as I neared the train and looked up. One tentacle lifted, waved and fell back to the tangled mess with a heavy plop. I climbed up into the mangled car and had a peek in. The interior was dark, but blessedly free of bodies. Overhead, the groan of overburdened metal and splintered wood framing encouraged me to vacate immediately.

“Right, well look at it. It appears to be dying,” I said as I hopped down to the platform.

The woman tore her gaze from the animal and stared at me like I had tentacles of my own. “Shouldn’t we call the police?”

“What would the police do?”

The attendant pulled a worn handkerchief from his overalls pocket, paisley-deep red, and blotted his whiskered chin.

“I’m thinking calamari.”