Category Archives: Flash fiction

The Bixy

The tiny blonde woman stamped her tiny, high heel shod foot and repeated, “Just take it! Why do I have to keep asking you?” She glared at him in exasperation, her outthrust arms holding a black leather briefcase handsomely trimmed in brass. “What is your problem?” Her voice was high-pitched, somewhere around the same range as a kitten’s mew and with an accent that George couldn’t quite place.

He stared at the figure. She was standing near the edge of his glass-topped desk. Just moments before she had walked out from behind his computer monitor and strode across the gleaming desk, her black, spike heeled pumps chattering across the dekstop, her black pantsuit reflecting in the mirror like surface. She stood about seven or eight inches tall, perhaps seeming a tad bit taller as a result of her towering heels. She was very slender and even a bit fragile looking with her pale skin and nearly platinum hair that was caught up in a chic bun. Her proportions were perfect or more than perfect, rather Barbie-like. Her suit was tailored and complemented by her choices in fashionably chunky jewelry. Her hands were tipped with shortish nails finished in a French style manicure. He could see this tiny detail (and on this miniature woman it was indeed a tiny detail) because those hands were holding the aforementioned briefcase out before her body, reaching toward him.

George had no idea what he was supposed to do. Not a single, solitary, lowly idea. His mind was frozen, he could not comprehend what was before his eyes. He continued staring, speechless. The diminutive woman seemed to finally understand his shock and she lowered the briefcase to the desk and looked at him with a softened gaze. “Not again,” she said. “What’s with you Yanks? You all act like you don’t know what a bixy is.”

“A bixy?” George finally managed to squeak. “What’s a bixy? Is that like a fairy?”

The tiny blonde woman, or bixy, George thought, shook her head and muttered not quite under her breath, “Bloody stupid Americans”.

“A fairy? Do I fucking look like Tinkerbell? A bixy is what I am, right? A pixy who specializes in business matters. Business + pixy, get it?” George nodded to the tiny creature. He didn’t get it at all but he didn’t want to rile her up further.

“What is your name? My name is George.”

“I know your name, George,” the bixy said. “I tend to know the names of those I’ll be working for.” She looked skyward and asked “Why me? First I get Paul Jenkins and now this dim bulb. Who up there hates me?”

George started at the mention of Paul Jenkins. Paul was the whole reason he was here to begin with. This fancy vice-president’s office had been Paul’s until his unfortunate breakdown. Jenkins had been discreetly carted off to a high priced institution only three weeks ago. His breakdown had birthed George’s big break, giving him the chance to move into the vice-president’s spot. George was a kind man and would never have wished ill on his predecessor, but, once he was out of the picture, George had to seize the opportunity given him.

He had barely finished unpacking his last box, arranged his pens and pencils (a bit old fashioned but George loved his #2 pencils), and adjusted his Execuvat 9000 Supreme office chair to his liking when the bixy had appeared on his desk, offering up the tiny briefcase to him and urging him to take it off her hands.

“My name is Cyberina,” she said. “My job is to help you succeed in your new job.”

George further refined his blank look as he stared rather stupidly at Cyberina. “How can you help me in my job?” he finally asked. The bixy looked at him with, not respect, but with perhaps a little less scorn than before.

“At least you’re talking to me, not running around the office screaming like that nitwit Jenkins,” she told him. George’s blank stare began to clear as he realized just what Cyberina was saying.

“You mean… you mean, umm, Paul’s breakdown was because of you?”

“Ha!” she said, the scorn back full force in her voice. “It weren’t because of me, but because he were too dense to believe his own eyes. What’s so hard about that? Look at you, you’re doing just fine. A bit slow, but no screaming ninny you are.” George blushed at this underwhelming praise.

“Where did you come from? How did you get here?” George asked, his shock receding and his natural curiosity coming forth.

“Remember when Mr. Paul Screaming Nitwit Jenkins went on that business trip to England about a month back?” Cyberina settled herself down on the edge of the desk, taking off her spike heeled pumps and rubbing her feet. “Fucking unholy things these heels are,” she said.

George nodded, he had wanted to go on the trip too but budgets cuts meant that he had to attend the sessions via video teleconference, an experience about as useful and satisfying as masturbating with a condom on.

“I had wanted to come to the States for a bit but the only visa I could get was an H1-B for temporary special worker with annex BP-CYBER. No problem for me, I’m a bixy, that’s what I do. But I had a problem convincing an American to sponsor me because they all refused to believe I existed. So, I sort of stowed away in Jenkins’ luggage, figuring I’d get it all sorted out when I got here. I mean, who wouldn’t want the help that I can offer? All I want in return is a chance to experience life in America. Land of drinks served with ice and 500 channels on tv. Stores that stay open for 24 hours a day.” Her face softened and took on a look of childlike anticipation. “I had 30 days from my arrival here to get my visa processed and that deadline is coming up fast. If I had picked a more mentally stable man’s suitcase I’d be coming up roses but here we are. And that’s where you come in,” she finished.

“Me?? What can I do?” George asked.

Cyberina closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. “I… need… a… sponsor,” she said. “You need help in your new job. You sponsor me, I work for you, you succeed in your career beyond your wildest dreams, I get to try out the American dream, everyone’s happy.”

“But how can you help me?” George’s shock had settled into a more pedestrian state of confusion.

“See this briefcase?”

“Of course,” he said. “What I don’t know is why you keep trying to give it to me.”

“This briefcase holds the secret to your success.” Cyberina’s voice was supremely patient. “It’s full of bixy dust.” George didn’t want to rile her up again but he had to ask.

“What is bixy dust? I don’t understand.”

“Bixy dust is what makes a bixy so special,” she said. “Bixy dust is what sets bixies apart from not only elves, sprites, and fucking fairies, but other pixies. You go to your big meeting, right? You have all these investors whose money you need, yeah? You’re sweating bullets because you know deep down inside you’re not really smart enough or talented enough or even schmoozy enough to get the job done,” she said, her voice lowering into a confidential tone. George felt slightly sick, how did she know thatwas exactly how he felt when he went into those big meetings? “What you do, you take a pinch of this here bixy dust between your fingers right before you go into your meeting, say ‘cyber, cyber, cyber’ and throw the pinch of dust over your left shoulder.”

“Like spilled salt?” George’s sense of humor began to emerge from the shock and confusion of the past several minutes.

“Nothing like salt!” Cyberina said. “This is serious business! If you don’t get this right I’ll be deported.” George was immediately contrite.

“I’m sorry, please go on,” he said.

Slightly mollified, the bixy continued. “Say ‘cyber, cyber, cyber’. Three times exactly. No more and no less. Then flick the bixy dust over the shoulder. Words first, dust second, in that order. When you walk into your meeting you’ll appear confident and competent and you will walk away with all the funding you asked for and then some. Your boss will think you’re a genius and will reward you with big bonuses.”

“Are you sure?” George asked. “How do you know for sure that’s what will happen?” Cyberina rolled her eyes.

“Because that’s my specialty!” she said. “Bixies concentrate on certain areas. Some bixies are focused on finance, others on trade or pharmaceuticals. Me? I specialize in anything cyber related. If you couldn’t guess from my name,” she said. “Look, George. You’ve got to trust me. What do you have to lose? Nothing, that’s what. All you have to do is sign my visa papers. Even if it doesn’t work (and it will), you’re no worse off than before.”

George thought about this. The whole thing was crazy. He wanted to pinch himself to see if he was dreaming but he had never understood why this was supposed to work. What did pinching have to do with dreaming? Suppose he was dreaming. Why wouldn’t he take a chance in a dream? What’s the worst that could happen?

“Let’s do it,” he told her.

“See? It’s already working,” Cyberina said. “That was an executive decision if I ever saw one.” George blushed again. Cyberina unzipped an outer compartment on the briefcase and pulled out a tiny sheaf of papers. “Sign these and we’ll officially be a team. Cyberina and George, George and Cyberina. Stick with me, kid, the world’ll be your oyster.” The bixy beamed up at him, her former disdain transformed into approval. “And to think, I nearly got stuck with that idiot, Jenkins,” she said. George wanted to defend his former coworker but he silently agreed with her, Jenkins was an idiot.

George signed Cyberina’s worker visa papers, no easy task on the tiny paper. The bixy took the papers and said she would file them with the appropriate authorities right away. She offered up the briefcase once again, and this time, he took it. He had a meeting to attend.

******

George paused before entering the conference room. He took the miniscule briefcase from his pocket, flipped the miniature latches, and carefully opened the lid. He grasped a tiny pinch of the bixy dust between his right thumb and forefinger and held it tightly while he closed the briefcase with the back of his hand and put it back in his pocket. Still clutching the magical powder, he glanced around to make sure he was alone, then softly chanted “Cyber, cyber, cyber,” the last cyber spoken with increasing confidence and vigor. He tossed the pinch over his shoulder and immediately stood taller. George grasped the handle of the conference room door, pulled it open, and stepped into the room.

 


Billy Goats Gruff

Time for the latest terribleminds challenge. This one is called Fairy Tales Remixed. You take a fairy tale and a random sub-genre and 1000 words later, voila! In my case I chose The Billy Goats Gruff with a detective sub-genre.

I was fumbling in my bottom desk drawer for my bottle of corn when I felt a presence. I looked up and there she stood. She was tall with a knockout body but with a face that had been knocked around with an ugly stick. She gazed coolly at me and waited for my move.

“May I help you?” I asked. Damn Phyllis must have stepped out to buy a deck of Luckies or else I wouldn’t have been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

“I’m looking for Frank Sweetwater,” she said.

“Yeah, lady, I’m Frank. And who might you be?”

“My name is Lillian LaTrolle. My friends call me Lillie,” she looked at me, seeing the stubble on my cheeks and the network of broken capillaries marching across my nose. Her nostrils flared as the stale air of my office reached them. Traces of old bourbon and desperation make a potent mix. “You may call me Mrs. LaTrolle.”

“What can I do for you, Mrs. LaTrolle?” I didn’t like her or her ugly mug but I hadn’t had a client walk through the door in weeks.

“I would like you to find my three brothers. They’re missing, and everyone tells me don’t worry,” she said. “But it’s not like them, Mr. Sweetwater. They know I worry but I haven’t heard a thing in weeks and I’m so frightened that something has happened.” Her eyes welled up, magnified by unshed tears and I noticed how beautiful they were. Large and dark and fringed with thick black lashes…

I shook my head. I had been in danger of drowning in those eyes. Get your head back in business, Frank.

“What can you tell me about them?” I motioned to a chair and she sat down slowly, giving me an eyeful of some amazing getaway sticks.

“Their name is Gruff.” She gave me details about their descriptions, last known whereabouts, usual haunts. We agreed on terms (a 10% surcharge added to my fee for that ‘Mrs. LaTrolle’ business) and shook hands. Phyllis could type the contract later.

Lillie rose, giving me another look at those legs. She walked to the doorway and paused.

“Mr. Sweetwater… could you please keep my name out of this? If you find the boys and they’ve just been out for a lark they’d be furious that I’d hired you.”

“Mum’s the word,” I said.

It had been too long and I was ready to hit the streets. This job should be duck soup and I’d be paying my rent in no time.

I grabbed my hat, took a swig from my bottle, and walked into the outer office. Phyllis was back and was behind her desk with a gasper hanging from her mouth.

“Phyllis, I got a job,” I said. “Spare me a Lucky for the road.”

“Mr. Sweetwater, you’re always telling me not to smoke so much and now you’re wanting butts off me.”

“And you tell me not to drink so much but you know where my corn is kept don’t you.”

She blushed and handed over the cigarette.

As I made my rounds around the hangouts of the brothers Gruff, the picture cleared. Innocent lambs they were not. Their haunts were dives, the cheap ones where pro skirts hung out with hoods and redhots.

I got my break when a little birdie told me those boys had pulled a major flimflam involving a fancy nightclub called Bridge to Heaven. The brothers weren’t lost, they were laying low.

The job was tough- I wasn’t looking for lost sheep, I was looking for the didn’t want to be found. But I wasn’t born yesterday and I had been working these streets for longer than those Gruff boys had been alive. Damn right I found them.

I met Lillie at my office to tell her the good news. Her frosty air thawed when I gave her the address of the boys’ hideout, a flophouse where they were registered under the name Caprine.

“Oh, thank you, Mr. Sweetwater!” she said. “I was out of my mind.”

“It’s my job, Mrs. LaTrolle. I’m good at what I do,” I said.

“Quite,” she said, looking around the dingy office. “I’m sorry I doubted you. How much do I owe?”

I told her the final bill and she wrote out a check, saying she was giving me a bonus for my quick work.

“Thank you again, Mr. Sweetwater,” she said.

“Thank you, Mrs. LaTrolle, let me know if you need anything else.”

“I’ll do that, Mr. Sweetwater,“ she said as she walked to the door. “You really don’t know how grateful I am.”

The next morning I was in my apartment, drinking my joe, and shaking out the morning paper.

“TRIPLE HOMICIDE IN SEEDY HOTEL!”

            “Police have reported the shooting deaths of three men in the Bowery Hotel on the lower south side. Buck Gruff, 28, Billy Gruff, 24, and Charles “Kid” Gruff, 19, were found in their hotel room shot execution style in the back of the head. There are no known suspects at this time.”

I made it to my office in record time. I needed to find that check. When Lillie had handed it to me yesterday I only had eyes for all the zeroes. The bank had been closed so I left the check in my desk until morning.

When I found it I looked at the upper left corner. “Lillian LaTrolle,” it read. Underneath was “Proprietor, Bridge to Heaven Nightclub.” Distracted by those legs and eyes and my empty wallet, I had not paid enough attention to her, only her green.

She had set me up. If I went to the cops, she would tell them I was in on it, that’s what the bonus was for. If I accused her of murder, she would say I was the paid hitman. She knew my reputation, knew that I had been a loser down on his luck for a while. A drunk versus a high class lady, no contest. And, after all, what business was it of mine? Those boys were no-goods, they had ripped her off with that nightclub job. I could cash that check and be set for a while. And let a murderer go free.

My stomach churned.

I opened my bottom desk drawer, pulled out my bottle, drank, and waited for the bank to open.


The Lovestruck Rider

Time for another of Chuck Wendig’s terribleminds flash fiction challenges. For this challenge we had to take two randomly chosen words from two columns and make that our 1000 word story’s title. I got “Lovestruck Rider.” Cheers. 

Big Jake was in trouble. Big Jake was in love. The first followed the second as naturally as bees followed the scent of flowers or Tuesday followed Monday.

The trouble began shortly after Big Jake started making his rounds, collecting payouts here, threatening beatings there, a normal day. On his list (typed up the night before by the gang secretary, Marge) was a new place, Suzanne’s Siren Salon. Next to the name was an address and a note “refuses to pay (p).” The (p) stood for protection, a lucrative sideline for the gang and it was not offered- it was levied on businesses whose owners wanted to stay in business. Big Jake stepped in when a foolhardy owner refused to pay. Big Jake was the muscle, the enforcer, the man who struck fear into the hearts of other men and made them empty their wallets and their bank accounts if required.

Strolling into the salon, he took a look around. Lots of mirrors with adjustable stools in front and various contraptions on counters nearby. Dryers and curling wands he could figure out but some devices looked like they might have been used by Torquemada.

Big Jake leaned on the reception desk and gave the teenager seated behind it a hard look.

“I need to talk to Suzanne,” he said, scowling and rolling his muscular shoulders inside his leather jacket, making it creak ominously.

“Ummm…ummmm, we’re not actually open yet. We don’t open until ten,” the teenager squeaked.

“NOW!” He pounded on the desk.

The girl began to cry and fled across the salon and through a discreet door in back.

Big Jake looked around again and caught the eye of a stylist setting up her station, getting ready for her first client. He stared and she grabbed her purse and went out the front door, muttering about needing a goddamn cigarette anyway.

Now alone in the salon, he preened in the mirrors, turning this way and that, admiring the newly embroidered “Fists of Thunder” patch on his back. He was busy flexing his muscles and practicing his scowl when the rear door opened and a woman came out.

She was as tiny as he was big, maybe topping five feet on her tippy toes. Dark red hair curled and bounced around a pixieish face as she strode through the salon, stopping a few feet in front of Big Jake. She couldn’t be more than thirty.

“I’m Suzanne, how may I help you?” she asked, her voice low and sweet.

“Look lady, I don’t need no games. You know what I’m here for. You owe us a payment and it’s overdue,” he said, his meanest glare on display.

“No, I’m afraid not,” Suzanne said.

“Afraid not? Whaddaya mean, afraid not?”

“Look, Mr….,” she paused.

“Big Jake,” he offered.

“Look, Mr. Big Jake, this is my business and I run it my way. I do not require your services and therefore I will not be paying for them, no matter how generous your offer is,” she said, her voice still sweet as honey.

“Lady. You don’t understand. We ain’t offering, we’re telling.” Big Jake cracked his knuckles. “You pay or things could happen… unpleasant things.” He loomed over her at his intimidating best.

“How dare you! What would your mother think, you threatening a woman like that! I bet she’d die of shame if she knew her baby boy was going around acting like a lout and trying to scare women like you’re doing!” her honey voiced darkened into molasses.

“Lady, leave my mother out of this, she ain’t got nothing to do with it. Pay up or else,” he said. Why was she talking about his mama? That wasn’t nice.

“Or else what? You’ll knock me around? Break my legs? What an occupation for a big grown man, frightening women. Do you go kick puppies in your spare time?” she asked with such venom Big Jake took a step back.

“Lady, I ain’t like that. C’mon, be nice and just pay up and I’ll be on my way.” Big Jake shifted his feet, why was he trying to explain himself to her?

Suzanne wasn’t buying it. She scolded him up and down and sideways, his face turning scarlet, her tongue giving him whiplash.

Big Jake had had it. “Lady!” he bellowed. “Enough!”

Suzanne took a step back, then defiantly stepped forward.

Big Jake stopped. He wasn’t sure what to say. He started toward Suzanne, he was going to throttle her goddamned neck and keep her viperous mouth from saying another word. He was going to grab her shoulders and…and…draw her into his arms for a kiss. Big Jake shook his head and arranged the scowl back on his face. He was going to show her what happened to people who talked to Big Jake like she had. He was going to show her all right. Show her the time of her life when he took her to the fanciest places in town. Damnit! Big Jake wondered if some of the salon chemicals had gotten to his brain, eating it away and turning it into Swiss cheese.

Suzanne stood waiting, her arms crossed and her chin tilted up.

“You! You… damn woman!” Suzanne watched as Big Jake’s glare crumbled into confusion as he turned and fled the store.

Outside the salon, Big Jake leapt onto his Harley and raced away, the heavy motorcycle’s engine roaring. He rode and rode and rode, hoping the deafening throb of the chopper would drown out the crazy thoughts in his head. No woman he had ever met could compare to the tiny, fearless, ferocious Suzanne. And now he was going to go back to the Fists of Thunder’s headquarters without all the money he was supposed to collect, with every name on his list neatly checked off except Suzanne’s Siren Salon. What could he tell them? Excuses would only work for so long.

Big Jake was in trouble. Big Jake was in love.


The Box

Time for round two of Chuck Wendig’s latest Terribleminds challenge. This is where we take someone else’s 200 word start and continue it for the next 200 words. I took J’s untitled story and tentatively named it The Box. Yeah, I know, really grasping at straws there.

He was still in the box.

How long had he been in here? No way to know. Whoever the hell had put him in the thing clearly didn’t mean to kill him. At least, not yet. He’d slept twice since first waking up in the box and, except for the occasional bout of panic and claustrophobia, he wasn’t having any trouble breathing.

At first, he had banged on the wood of the box, hoping someone would hear and get him out of the damn thing. Now his hands hurt and it didn’t seem worth the trouble. He hadn’t heard a damn thing but the rattle of his own breathing the whole damn time.

It had been inevitable that something like this would happen. He’d pissed enough people off in his time. Hadn’t really expected the box, though. A gun in the face, yes. The shit kicked out of him in a bar, sure. A box, no.

The box was what he thought of as coffin sized but it clearly wasn’t a coffin. There was no padding for one. Nothing inside but him and bare wood. It was big enough to hold him comfortably but not what you would call spacious.

The last thing he could remember before waking up in the box was getting into his car and heading off to meet his latest client. He felt like he had been hit by a truck. That would explain the aches and tender spots that were throbbing painfully as he lay there, unable to move more than a few inches in any direction. But that wouldn’t explain the box. He had put up a fight. Of course he had, he was nobody’s pushover. I bet it took at least three of them to get me in here, he thought.

What about the client who he had been scheduled to meet? Had she set him up? Or was it a coincidence that he had been on his way to meet her when he had made an unscheduled and unwelcomed detour to this pine purgatory? He didn’t believe in coincidences.

He never advertised his services, his clients were all referrals from satisfied customers. He didn’t know much about this latest prospect, Lisa Racine was the name she had given him. He had been on his way to meet her for the first time when instead he had woken up in this damned box.


The Corner

In the latest Terribleminds challenge, we have to write a story 200 words at a time. So I write 200 words and then next week I take someone else’s 200 words and add another 200 to that (and hopefully someone picks mine to add 200 words to) and so on until Week Five when we’ll have a glorious craziness of mashed up stories. Here’s my 200 word (or 199 to be precise) effort:

The cat stared at the corner of the bedroom. Her eyes were black disks with only a rim of yellow showing. She was stock still and it was creeping me out.

“Hey, Shadow!”

She didn’t respond, not even an ear flicker. As I watched her, goosebumps popping up on my arms, she moved. Rather, her fur moved. Her tail puffed out like a bottle brush and a ridge of fur rose up along her back, unfurling like a hoisted sail.

A low keening noise made my heart jump. A sound of fear, pain, and sadness, it was coming from Shadow. I’d never heard the cat make a noise other than a chirpy sort of meow or a raucous purr.

The keening continued, rising and lowering in pitch in an awful melody. I got out of bed, walked over to Shadow and knelt down. She ignored me, still staring into the corner. The keening got louder and her body vibrated with the effort of producing that ghastly noise. I lowered my head until it was on a level with hers, forcing myself to turn my head and look at the spot hypnotizing the cat.

And I saw what she saw.

*Update: This story went through all five stages of the challenge, woohoo! Joanna Horrocks’ finale can be found at her blog here: http://joannahorrocks.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/the-corner-flash-fiction-challenge-week-five/


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