26 February 2010

"The Body" #Fridayflash

This was a pleasure to write, even though it has numerous interpretations. What do you think happened? - CC

Photo credit: clarita from morguefile.com

Silhouettes skittered over the pale mound that lay splayed open, shaded by a massive boulder from the intense mid-day sun. Bottle-green flies the size of nickels droned lazily in the lifeless Memphis air, reluctant to leave their prize.

“Did you say who found her?” The doctor crouched, falling on one knee to poke at the mess.

“One of the local kids,” The detective beside him said. "He said he heard commotion outside his house last night but was too scared to investigate until this morning." His phone rang on its clip on his belt and he stepped back from the scene, obviously relieved to have an excuse to escape for a moment.

“Wendy,” the doctor said, waving at a blanched intern in pigtails with a brand new Nikon, “Bring the camera over here.”

“My God,” Wendy said as she raised a convexed lens to record the actual damage. “Coyotes?” She asked, hopeful.

“Could be. There's definitely signs of a struggle. Minute amount of what appears to be charring.” He raised a specimen bag for a closer look. The body wasn't what could be called 'good' or even 'recognizable' condition. This female (identified by the exposed bones) had no entrails to speak of. The corpse was fresh, but nearly completely eaten. Her face was a mangled mess of features. No heart, just a gaping, glistening cavity.

“It wasn't a pack of animals,” the doctor said, pointing out a wicked set of bite marks in what was left of the woman's outer thighs. “Unless they all have the same crooked jawline. See these bites? Asymmetrical.”

“Maybe it was a bear,” the intern mumbled, brushing black fringe bangs out of her face. She was just a kid practically. The doctor glanced up at her and frowned. Her skirt was shorter than need be. It was distracting.

“Okay if we move the body?” A team stood by behind them; three men in pale green overalls, latex gloves and surgical masks. They had a gurney ready with an open and unused body bag on it.

The doctor examined the woman's teeth for further clues. Her incisors were filed to points. Her skin was steaming apparently from the heat. He frowned, and rose to his feet, slipping off his examination gloves. A detective nearby spoke to a witness. He shook his head. There wasn't much more that could be done. They couldn't identify the body.

“Yeah, go ahead and take the Jane.”

The sun was settling in the middle of the sky as the team worked the body into the black rubber bag. They lifted the thing onto the gurney and wheeled it out into direct sunlight.

The bag burst into flame.

18 February 2010

"Final Contract" #Fridayflash

Author's note: I added 'will be' quite a bit in this piece, simply because I am forever cutting them out or avoiding them altogether. In the interest of pursuing varied writing styles, I provide you with this very short. Can you tell who it is?

Photo credit: Comeilmare from morguefile.com

They all get called—some are waiting for it, others fear it—but when their number is up, I am there. Fast or slow, high or low. Traumatizing—it does not matter. Horrifying? The most energy. I am proud to say that from an early age, everybody knows my name.

I will show early to see it happen, to feel the transfer of fate dealt. I will never be the cause, merely the purveyor of such unfortunate circumstances. I will have no bias against race, creed, or gender. I will take the wealthy as quickly as I snatch one deep from the recess of poverty.

I will also be a gentleman. In return, I will attempt to (as much as possible) offer a final review. Scenes of everyday existence: Favorite moments, or if I’m feeling particularly malevolent, compressed minutes of terror. I will watch what was warm lose the spark. I will watch the animate transform to inanimate, and I will take my leave.

My calling card will be blue or green: mottled, with the sweet hint of impending decay. It will be given, it will command, it will translate to chemical changes within the cooling flesh. One last fire, as Nature insists on closure, and then it is the way, as with all things. Every last soul. I will be your guide—be glad I am here.

This is a lasting promise made. I will meet you eventually, for I exist for one purpose: I exist because of you.

12 February 2010

"The Missing Link" #Fridayflash

In the light of the examination room, it's obvious what is wrong with her.

"I'm thinking this was a bad idea," Thomas says. He looks to his colleague, brisk in a white coat with two Bic pens clinging to the lip of his breast pocket.

"It's quite alright," Johnson says. He pulls out a pen and scratches notes on his notepad. Moleskine, like archaeologists and artists use. "Where did you say she was found?"

"Basement in Ontario. The owner kept her there because he didn't know how to care for her."

"This is a great discovery. The very first cloned Neanderthal." Johnson chews on his pen cap. "The best part is that we have no paper trail to clean up afterward."

"That could never be integrated into society," Thomas adds. Johnson smirks.

"I think not, unless we shaved her like a mongrel. Besides, she doesn't know the difference. Look at her eyes. Not a shred of intelligent thought behind them. She's apparently very apelike."

"The Missing Link," Thomas says in wonder.

"Perhaps," says Johnson. He reaches out to the beast-woman in chains, perched atop the filing cabinet. She growls. He retracts his hand.

"Can she speak?"

"Not that we can tell. It's far too advanced an emotion for her. She's an animal."

"That eats raw meat."

"Nuts and berries also," Johnson reasons.

"How long until termination?" Thomas asks.

Johnson scribbles notes and looks at his watch. "At this rate? Not today. I wanted one last batch of samples. Autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow evening."

"I wish there was a way we could keep her alive. You know, for the research value."

Johnson smiles in empathy. "You can't grow attached to something like that. If she won't let loose of that leg soon…ah well. We can wait."

"The owner has been cremated. We're in no rush for the body part."

Johnson nods. "We'll deal with the activists later. Every night I'm sorely tempted to run over their tents. It's a media circus out there."

"Do they know of Neanderthal cannibalistic tendencies?"

Johnson shakes his head and slips the pen back into his pocket. "No and God willing, they never will."

Beyond the door, a break-in alarm sounds.

Source of inspiration.

04 February 2010

"Dullcreek" #Fridayflash

It was intriguing how this character showed up. I'd sat down to write some more 500, and she just kinda wandered in, tipped her hat in my direction and told me her story. Hoping to elaborate as time goes by, if it pleases my Lesley.

I married her in 1912, down under the weathered steeple of the First Presbyterian Congregation of Dullcreek, Pennsylvania. She wore a little blue garter on her left leg and didn't tell no one until I went after her later that night. She stepped in close to me, so close I could smell her smoky breath, like smoked pine and I knew I wanted to taste her mouth on me. She was a good woman, lithe and classy, with short dark-golden locks pinned in the waved style of our heyday. Sometimes she wore hats, complete with the flourish of a male peacock feather tucked in the band. Annette was a sweet dame, with cherry-filing lips and a smile like light on water.

We giggled in the seats, her hands gentle on my stomach, my neck, all the way up to my mustache, where she carefully peeled away the super-sticky resin holding it on. Les and Annette Smith. It didn't take much to make the convincing picture. I wore my pa's suspenders and boots, and the clean cotton shirt was stuffed with just enough cotton to present a slight over-belly over the worn waist of my trousers.

And my Annette? Sweet flower she was, so convinced that any kind of destiny that involved me was certain to take her to Heaven. She believed in the Lord, up until her last breath. A distant smile and her dark eyes focused on me once again.

“Make them see Lesley,” she'd said, with her soft graceful fingers curled around my own. “Tell them. Don't be afraid.”

The day my Annette died was my momma's birthday. And my momma had herself the same situation we was in. Only my momma was a pretty woman, delicate in bone and sculpted of cheek until the Rotary club of Something or Other came upon her in the road and called her the name of a dam. She always used that word when she told the story. She told it to anyone who would listen through those bars, and that was for a long time since women weren't allowed to have death sentences. The state saved her until the one night I was born.

But with Annette, I'd tried. We'd gone out, and Annette even kissed me deeply before going into the cinema like a man and wife. I wore the pants; she wore the fancy stoles and dresses. She curled her eyelashes and spritzed on perfume that made her smell like a movie star. She sure was a star in my book.

When the mayor found out that we'd gotten married right under his nose, we were separated immediately. I was found guilty of impersonating a man and thrown into jail. Annette was not to see me for six months while I served my sentence, learned the talk, walked the walk and endured all kinds of messes that ladies should never run into.

Good thing I'm not a lady.

Annette picked me up at the gates in our old Ford, a subtle defiance to what the law stated. As long as there was no public displays of affection, they'd allow it. As long as I denied what I'd made mine back before she was fully a woman, they'd allow it. We took a faith and lived separate lives, all the while meeting in the dark with pressed breasts and heated breath. She bit my lip and I tugged her pretty curls. She'd use her fingers and then her mouth, and I'd lay across her and repay the kindness.


The sun came unexpectedly one morning—we'd fallen asleep in the same room together, naked—and the innkeeper came to the door with master keys and opened the door on our shame.

Then the men came up. There were so many of them. My hands were torn from her hands, and they beat me up in front of her, before taking her away. My lip still stung from where she bit, but hairy knuckles bloodied it good.

“Les Smith, if that is your real name, you are under arrest for homosexual acts and other abominations in the eyes of God. Annette's coming with us, and you're going back to prison.”

Defeated, I let them jerk me whichever way they wanted, and did not respond as my naked breasts were covered by scratchy wool. I didn't flinch when backhanded, I just got back up off the floor and walked behind, head down but my eye straining to catch a glimpse of dark-gold curls.

Nobody figured the classy lady'd shake loose of their grasp and run, skirts fluttering around her shapely legs but I did. I knew Annette. I knew she wouldn't just accept the fate handed to her. Maybe she didn't see the gap between the rails and thought she could beat the train and leave her pursuers on the other side of the tracks, but the heel of her dainty little boot caught and held her fast, and then there was the train, and then there I was, chained and bloody, but her head was in my lap and a man lay dead in the street because of me.

I was twenty. I don't think she knew what'd happened. Her eyes reached up to mine and held my gaze with love. I saw those pearly-whites once more before the scarlet came. They said she had no pain, it was a fairly clean cut just at the waist, but I folded myself in half just to touch my lips to hers and lay cheek-to-cheek with my Annette because my hands were still cuffed behind my back.

I got to spend the next seven years contemplating who Les was in Rockview Pen, busting rocks and being touched nearly every damn day I was in. When I got out, no one was waiting for me. I took a bus south, down where the Mississippi is redder and I staked me out a tiny plug of earth. I put on my daddy's fedora after getting a haircut from the nice barber just outside of town, and lit a cigar as I plotted my homecoming back to Dullcreek.

Women who have posed as men in history.