Flash Fiction Friday: The Bike (Part 2)

Dan rubbed the hood of his brand new, cherry colored Chevy Corvette Stringray with a clean cloth, then stepped back to admire it. His chest swelled. He’d longed for one of these ever since he could drive. He leaned in to continue cleaning then—

A cough from someone at the end of his driveway.

His face fell as he turned, sparks flying through his mind, seeking the memory of how he knew this man. The guy was tall and thin, with a cigar that just barely dangled from his lips. Dan’s blood pressure dropped. Had it been twenty years already?

“Hello, Danny-boy,” the man said. “Good to see you again. Years have treated you well, I see?” At this, he glanced at the car, his gaze dripping with want.

Dan clenched his fists. “I—I—”

“Breathe, Danny-boy. You’ll give yourself a heart attack.”

The man’s mouth curled into a hungry grin that made Dan’s skin crawl. “Please, don’t take my car. I’ve worked so hard for it…so many years—”

“No worries. I’m not here for the car, Danny-boy.”

Dan’s shoulders slumped in relief, then immediately tensed again. “What do you want, then?”

“Dad?” a small voice came from the garage.

“Tyler, go inside the house. This doesn’t concern you.” Dan nodded his head and hoped the ten year old would obey, for once.

“Oh, but this situation very much concerns Tyler, Danny-boy,” the man crooned.

Dan furrowed his brow. “What do you—”

The most valuable thing you possess, Danny-boy. That wouldn’t be some rusty old car, now would it?” The man choked on his laugh. Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: The Bike (Part 1)

The neighbors were moving.

Eleven year-old Danny kicked a stone along the sidewalk. He squinted against the sun and watched men move furniture into the house across the street. This was the third time the house had sold in two years.

A shiver ran down his spine, despite the fact it was the first day of summer vacation. Place must be cursed or something.

Crash! The boy jumped and glanced at the U-Move truck. His eye caught the glint of something shiny sitting in the back. Could that be…?

He stepped closer and got a solid look at the magnificent treasure. His heart sped and palms went sweaty. Bright red paint, polished aluminum frame, thick knobby tires. This was it. This was the exact bike he’d asked for at Christmas. The one he didn’t get—which was going to make for the most boring summer ever, this year. His heart sagged.

“Like it, eh?” a low voice sounded from behind.

For a second time, Danny jumped. His cheeks went hot and he pretended to look away.

A man, tall and thin, older than Danny’s dad but not really old, stood at the base of the truck. A cigar wagged at the edge of his cheesy grin. Danny swallowed.

“It’s okay, son. Any boy your age would drool over a baby like this.” The man patted the bike gently.

Danny tried to look like he didn’t care.

The man rocked on his feet for a second, then, “Tell ya what. How ‘bout I give it to you. Free of charge.”

“But—” The boy’s brows pulled tight. “Doesn’t that belong to someone—?”

“As a matter of fact, no. It’s left over from another move. Doesn’t have an owner currently.” The man eyed Danny and puckered his lips. “Unless, of course, you would like the job.”

The boy turned his empty pockets out. “But I don’t got any—”

“No problem.” The man held up a hand. “Won’t cost you a penny.” He scratched his chin in thought, even though it was obvious to Danny he already knew what he would say. “How ‘bout this: I’ll let you have the bike now, then in twenty years I’ll come back to collect payment.”

“Huh?” Danny scrunched his face up the way that annoyed his mom so much.

The man patted the bike again. “I’ll let you have this baby, then in a few years I’ll stop by for payment: The most valuable thing you possess.”

Danny bit his lip. The most valuable thing he possessed? What would that even be? He didn’t have much, other than those collectible baseball cards from his dad and the expensive wrist watch he never wore. And twenty years? How would the guy even find him? He wouldn’t be living in his house anymore!

The boy smiled. “Deal.”

The man with the cigar gave a nefarious grin in return, as he rolled the bike toward the boy. “See you in twenty years, then, Danny-boy.”

To be continued…

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Unsplash by Sollers

 

Flash Fiction Friday: The Sock Monster

“The Sock Monster was at it again.” Susan placed a pile of folded laundry on her son’s twin bed, a set of mismatched socks right on top.

“He’s been hungry, lately,” Kyle said. The seven year-old sat crossed legged on his bed, a comic book before him. “Can we get more?”

Susan bent to put some t-shirts in the dresser. “Get more what, hon?”

“Socks. For The Sock Monster.”

“We’re not buying more socks for a fictional character, Kyle.”

“But he’s not fix-chinal—”

“Fictional.”

“Yeah, whatever. He’s not, mom. Mr. Socks is real.”

“Mr. Socks?” Susan hung a pair of jeans in the closet.

“Yep. It’s what I named him. ‘Cause he’s not a monster, he’s—”

“Okay, okay. I get it. You’ve had your fun. Now get ready. We need to hit the store.”

“But what about Mr. Socks? We need to get more socks so—”

“Feed him the leftovers.” She dangled the two mismatched socks in front of Kyle with a smile.

“He doesn’t like eating the same thing every day. It’s boring—”

She headed toward the door. “No socks for something that’s not real.” Then, “Get those shoes on. I mean it.”

Kyle frowned as his mom left. He picked up the odd socks and shuffled to the laundry room. His shoulders slumped as he yanked the dryer door open and tossed them in before shutting it again.

“Sorry, Mr. Socks. This is all I’ve got for you.”

The dryer jerked, then it lunged, then it went still. Kyle opened the door to the dryer. It was empty.

He smiled. At least Mr. Socks wouldn’t go hungry, even if leftovers weren’t his favorite. Then Kyle ran to get his shoes on.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Flash Fiction Friday: Insomnia

Five hours. If I fall asleep now I can still get five hours sleep.

Rhonda rolled over in her bed with a grunt, her pillow tossed over her head.

**

“Dad said this house is mine.” Dean held a jar in the air.

“But you got the last two,” Colin whined.

“You can sprinkle Sleep Dust on the next client.”

“No!”

The invisible fairies scuffled, jar crashing to the floor.

“Look what you did,” Dean scolded. “We have to hit headquarters for another bottle, now.”

“Jeez,” Colin mumbled.

**

Rhonda sighed. Four hours, fifty minutes. I can still get sleep tonight. 

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Flash Fiction Friday: No Trespassing

No Trespassing.

Mary Ann read the words allowed as she and her three friends stood on the sidewalk outside the abandoned, dilapidated Cape Cod.

“So, the old witch finally died,” Sammy said. At thirteen, he was the oldest of the group.

Sarah crossed her arms. “Oh posh, Sammy. She was just an old lady. Weirdly reclusive and totally mean to anyone who walked by, but still just an old lady.”

“Yeah, but she’s been around forever. I mean, at least as long as we’ve all been alive.” Thomas scratched a hand through his shaggy brown hair.

“We’ve only been alive for twelve years, Tommy. That’s not forever.” Mary Ann pushed her glasses up her nose.

“Whatever.”

“Well, I’m going in.” Sammy walked around the side of the house as the rest of the group sprinted to catch up.

“But—” Sarah whisper-yelled as she glanced around for nosy neighbors.

“You can’t just—” Mary Ann pled in a high-pitched voice.

Thomas just laughed. At five feet ten inches, he was the thinnest and tallest in their class, always ready for an adventure.

“Sam!” Mary Ann begged. “Would you just—”

“Too late,” Sammy sing-songed.

He jiggled the latch on the backdoor and it swung open. Amid protests from the girls, the four slipped inside the dark house.

“Whoa,” Sammy said. “This place hasn’t been dusted in a while. Gross.” He dragged a finger along a tabletop and cringed.

Sarah huffed. “Be nice, Sam. She was super old. Like, a hundred or something.”

“Yeah, and she was also a witch, remember?” Thomas gave her wink and laughed.

“Doesn’t look like a witch lived here,” Mary Ann said. “This place looks normal.”

“Normal?” Sammy held up a bowl filled with animal bones. “Does this look like something in your house?” Continue reading

Flash Fiction Guest Post: How I Became a Zombie Cheerleader

Hey folks!! Happy news! A Flash Fiction story I wrote for SlasherMonsterMagazine went live last week. You can check it out here. Interesting fact: It’s loosely–very loosely–based on something that happened to me in college!! Ha! Enjoy the story!

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Awesome artwork created by SlashMonsterMagazine. Go read the story! 🙂 

Flash Fiction: Doctor’s Office

The already cramped doctor’s office is packed. Seriously? I check in and grab a seat near the window.

A copy of In Style magazine with an attractive blonde on the cover catches my eye. I flip past Lose 10 lbs fast! to the recipe section. That’s always the best part, anyway.

Whispers distract me. I glance up. A little girl with dark hair that hangs in her face and ragged clothes that have seen better days, sits directly across. She’s barefoot, feet grimy and scabbed. I hide my disgust. How did they let her in like this? She quietly talks in the ear of the elderly woman beside her. The woman puts her hand to her head, moans, then grabs her stomach.

“Beatrice!” the nurse says from the door.

The elderly woman fights to walk to the nurse, hunched over as she shuffles.

I bite my lip. That was…strange. Whatever. The next recipe calls my attention and I ignore the room around me for another minute.

Until those whispers return. Those whispers.

My gaze jets around the room.

The girl has changed seats. She sits near a young man, now. He wears ear buds, his chin bobbing up and down to the beat of his music. The girl leans in. Whispers. His eyes glaze then crinkle as he grabs his chest, his side. The guy pulls the ear buds out and leans over, elbows on his knees, hands on his head.

“Jeremy!” the nurse says.

She stands at the door with a clipboard in her hand. He struggles to his feet and lopes after her, his jaw flexed the entire way. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This is weird. Too weird.

Once more, I shove my nose back into my magazine but I keep an eye on the girl and her movements from behind the pages. She moves from one person to the next. Each time she whispers. Each time the person reacts like they’ve just been stricken with sudden illness. Yet, no one comments on her presence, or even acknowledges her, for that matter. Not a single person looks in her direction.

Like she’s not real. An apparition.

I suck in a breath and my stomach clenches. I’ve had enough of this. It’s time I told the receptionist and got this girl kicked out of the office.

I toss the magazine on the table, grab my purse and—

The girl sits beside me. I can’t see her eyes from the way her stringy hair covers them. I cringe. A scent of something rotted drifts over, something sour and moldy. I cover my nose and lean away.

She whispers. Words I don’t understand. Can’t comprehend.

Pain lances across my forehead, shoots through my gut. My muscles go weak and my throat lights on fire with heat.

“Linda!” The nurse calls me.

I look beside me.

The girl is gone.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit LL Zimmerman

Flash Fiction Friday: The Neighbor

Anya slid her fingers through Fabio’s thick curls, marveled at his broad chest. How had it only been twenty-four hours? The love of her life had swept in, whisked her away to paradise—

Jessica snorted and tossed the paperback on the sofa before she headed to the kitchen for coffee. Ridiculous. Romance novels were all the same—perfectly plain heroine meets perfectly chiseled hero and they fall in love immediately. Not reality.

She leaned against the counter, sipped her beverage and sighed. Then again, who was she to judge, right? She hadn’t had a date in over a year. Apparently perfectly plain Jessica wasn’t perfect.

Charlie, her cat, rubbed along her leg. She picked him up and nuzzled him. “You would be the perfect man if you were human, wouldn’t you?”

If only finding a man was as easy as picking a cat. Heck, she didn’t even need a six-foot-four model named Fabio with jet black curls that fell to his shoulders, thick biceps and straight alabaster teeth. She’d take Mr. Average with a dad-bod, who was balding.

Jessica showered, got ready, unloaded the dishwasher, and folded a load of towels. Maybe someday Mr. Wonderful would appear.

“Have a good day,” she whispered to Charlie before she headed out the door of her apartment.

As she locked her door, she heard bangs from the new tenant as they moved in across the hall. She turned to leave and—

“Hello, beautiful. I’m new here.” A man with dark curly hair, the broadest shoulders she’d ever seen, and a smile that would put Jake Gyllenhaal to shame, towered before her.

Her jaw dropped.

The man smiled. “My name’s Fabio. I’d love to get to know you.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Pixabay by Olichel

Flash Fiction Friday: The Gas Station

The GPS was dead.

There was no cell service, either. Fifteen miles had passed without any connection with the world.

“Think we’ll find a gas station soon?” Ben said.

Maryann cringed. “How low are we?”

“Let’s put it this way…once we’re out of fumes, we’ll be walking.”

“And you’re sure this isn’t the right road?”

“Positive.” He ran a hand through his hair, gave a futile glance in the rearview mirror. Not a single car had passed by in the last hour. “Maybe this road-trip through the desert wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Well, at least it’s cloudy so it’s not so hot.” She stifled a smile.

“For now,” he grumbled. “With my luck—”

“Hey!” She sat up. “Is that a gas station ahead?”

He squinted. “Huh. Maybe my luck is changing.”

The car rolled into the vacant station and stopped in front of the pump, chugged, then died.

“Whoa.” Her eyes were wide.

He began pumping. “Hey honey, check this out. This thing looks like it could be from the 1950’s or something. It’s one of those old style pumps.”

She bit her lip and looked around. Where were all the other patrons?

Once done, they went inside to pay. A bell rang over the door and the two stopped cold.

“Wow,” she said. “This place takes the vintage thing to another level.”

She ran her fingers over the varnished wood counter, eyed the jars of penny candy. Norman Rockwell paintings covered the walls. Signage for Texaco and an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes that said, “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed” sat on the counter.

“Check this out,” he said.

He stood next to an ice-filled red chest labeled Coca-Cola. An hourglass shaped glass bottle of purple liquid fizzed in his hand.

“Grapette?”

“Ooo, grab me one,” she said.

“You folks ‘bout done?” A man with white hair stood at the register.

“Just need to pay for our fill up. How much is it?”

“Cheapest price in town. Twenty-five cents per gallon,” the man said.

Their jaws dropped.

“Excuse me?” she said.

“That’s impossible,” Ben added.

The man held one hand up. “Sorry. Can’t go a penny lower.”

“He takes this old fashioned thing seriously,” Maryann muttered.

Ben smiled. “No problem. Also, we’ll take these sodas.”

“They’re a nickel a piece,” the man said.

She guffawed but Ben threw a five on the counter and turned to leave.

“Wait!” she said. “We need a map.”

“That’ll run you a dime.”

“How in the—”

“Great!” Ben said. “We’ll take it.”

Once in the car, they pulled onto a side road and stared straight ahead.

“Did that just happen?” she said.

“Yep.”

“How does he stay in business?”

Ben shrugged.

She frowned. “Maybe I should’ve used the bathroom. Mind if we run back?”

“Sure, we—” His mouth fell open and he froze, his gaze behind them.

“Ben?”

“Where’s the station?”

She turned to see nothing but desert landscape.

“Maybe this was our lucky day, after all.”

 

© Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Original artwork by Anthony L. Croman

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Original artwork by Anthony L. Croman

Flash Fiction Friday: Honey

“Heather, did you take the honey?”

The little girl withered.

“It was a full jar,” Momma said.

“Well….” Heather fidgeted with her dress.

Momma crossed her arms. “Did you give it to your imaginary friends again?”

Heather looked down.

“How many times have I told you?” her Momma huffed. “It’s a waste of food! We’ll get rats if you keep shoving food under the floorboards!”

She threw her hands up and stomped away.

Heather knelt and lifted the floorboard. “You okay, Scrimrim?” she said to her Brownie friend.

The fairy nodded and smiled, then took another lick of his honey.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo Credit Unsplash by Amelia Bartlett