Friday, 27 September 2013

Co-operative Cliffhanger - Part Two

Okay, I wrote 'Stolen' last week - which was a first part of a Chuck Wendig Co-Operative Cliffhanger flash fiction challenge.  However, somebody else is going to finish it.  This means I have to finish somebody else's flash fiction this week.  And I chose:  Highway as my piece.  Now in the blog the way it is, you can't see the link (just move your mouse over the gap and it'll light up!  There you go!).  Well, read the link first and the below part second and it'll all make sense.



Highway


It felt as though we were flying in a prototype car-plane.  The guy with the gun was probably more terrified than I was; even though I was driving.

“Oh, shit!  Fuck man!” he started screaming, waving the gun around.

“Man! Put that thing down or you’re gonna cork one or both of us!” I shouted with my hands on the wheel, still looking out at the darkness of wherever we’re going.

Within the next few seconds, we landed.

But we didn’t stop!

The car jumped and jostled; slamming our heads against the roof a few times as the shockies of got a great workout over the rocky terrain, and I tried to control the damned thing!  As it did, it picked up speed.  With both the headlights smashed to crap, we had no clue where we were going, and this made this ride even more terrifying.

And as suddenly as we landed…

We came to a bone-crunching halt!

It was so sudden, the windscreen shattered into a spider web which blinded us and scared us and the airbags exploded in our faces.

We had hit a tree.

Or was it a rock?

Either way, the car wasn’t about to be moved again.

I looked over at my unwanted passenger and found he wasn’t moving, “Hey, you okay?” I touched his shoulder and he moaned as he leaned back against the seat with a large piece of glass sticking out of his gut, “Shit where did that come from?” looking up, I found a large chunk of the windscreen missing.

His sheet-white face gazed over at me, “I’m really sorry, man.  The money was for my daughter.  I really wasn’t going to kill you.” He let the gun go as he placed it on the seat between us and half-closed his eyes.

Tears welled in my eyes as I quickly checked myself over making sure I wasn’t injured, unbuckled my seat belt and shoved the door open with my foot and pulled the keys from the ignition. Then I hesitated a little before taking the gun.  His hand was still resting on it – lax – but I didn’t know if I should’ve taken it or not. 

Looking at him in the darkness I quickly reached over and closed his eyes – damned I didn’t want him looking at me – then I searched him for something to show who he was, found his wallet and pocketed that.  I’d look at that more later.  I pulled the gun from under his hand and climbed out of the vehicle.

I had never handled a firearm before and didn’t like the idea of having the need to use one.  But I was in the middle of nowhere with a lot of money strapped to me from my brother’s restaurant in the wreck of my car, which I had to leave because some nut tried to rob me.  Zipping up my jacket, I made sure the safety was on the gun and pushed it inside my pocket. 

I had hit a tree… but beyond that tree was a stream.  So, I thought it best to follow the stream until I found a road and then follow that to the nearest phone and then call in the accident.   It took a shorter length of time to find a gas station with a combined corner store; but it wasn’t open yet.  So, I sat outside to wait for it open. 

No traffic came past here.

The place looked and felt very abandoned.

This made me wonder if it was really a working gas station.  Instead of looking around – and probably getting myself into more trouble than I’m already in – I settle in and try to get some sleep.



“Excuse, sir, you can’t sleep here.”

I open my eyes and there’s a cop standing over me, “Oh… what time is it?”

“It’s around 8am.” He looked around, “You been here since before the owner opened up.  He doesn’t like it you’re here.”

I sat up slowly rubbing my now throbbing forehead.  I must have hit the windscreen, “I was in an accident.”

“Where?  We see no evidence of it.”

“It’s across the road and up the gully a bit.” I pointed, “I was car jacked and the guy pointed this at me…” I pulled out the gun slowly and place it on the seat at my side as the cop’s eyes widened and he stepped back, “I’d been walking through the gully… if I needed protection, I had it just in case.  I’m not dangerous.”

His eyes flickered from the gun to me and back, “I’ll be the judge of that.  Is there anything else I should know?”

“Yeah, the guy who car jacked me is dead in my car; and I have my brother’s earnings strapped to my chest under my clothes… he owns a restaurant downtown.” I watched him take this down then he turned back to his car.

Damned I’m tired.

“Yeah, I think we found him.” I heard the cop talking into his radio, “Call off the search.  But the guy with him is gone.  Search the hills and the gully from my location, he says there’s a wrecked car there with a dead guy in it.” The cop looks at me and smiled a little as the door of the gas station store opened and closed.

I think it’s a customer but then, a person sat next to me and picked up the gun and started playing with it.

It’s my brother, “Hi.” He pressed a button and the clip fell out into his right hand and he pockets that as he looks at me.

“What the hell?”

“The gun’s mine.” He pointed it to the ground and slides the top back and forth and there’s a bullet in there which popped out onto the ground where he leaned down and picked it up.  That went into his pocket too, then he rested the useless weapon between us, “I had to know something about you.”

“And that was?” I couldn’t take my eyes off the gun.

“How you worked under pressure, bro.” his face split into a wide grin, “And I gotta say… you’re fantastic.”

“What are you sayin’?”

He sighed, “I don’t owe anyone any money.  Those bills were to put you on edge.  I’ve got plenty of dough to go around – more! – and I wanted to let you in on the family business.”

“Why?”

“What did the guy who jacked the car say his daughter was sick with?” his eyes locked onto mine.

My mind scrabbled through the freaky night of rain, driving and having a gun put on me, “That she was really sick.  I don’t really remember with what.  He was desperate.”

“Yeah… so am I.” he whispered, “And I’m not gonna get better.”


Saturday, 21 September 2013

Stolen!



Dammit!  Shit! Shit! Shit!

I shouldn’t have stolen it! 

They’re getting closer, I can hear them as I run along the streets, pushing people out of the way, dodging around others who are constantly looking down at their damned phones and around seats and bins that seem to pop out of the ground like a Super-Mario Game.

I had dumped the friggin’ car, so why didn’t they want that?  Why are they after me?  I turn a corner only to find more of them…



Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! 



Backing away, I find another my way across the Mall into a building and up a steep flight of stairs.  We pass a second-hand record store with some loud, blaring heavy metal… my knees are killing me, but keep on going… the amount of feet behind me double as they follow me up there!

There are other businesses we pass – internet caf├ęs, an Asian bookstore, karaoke bar – and all of them we ignore as I try to leave the pack of blue dogs behind me!

Shit, it was just a damned car!  I didn’t smash it up, there wasn’t anything bad in it…



…was there?



I come to the top of the stairs where there’s a hallway and I pick a direction quickly without thinking.  I pick left… why did I go left? 



Dammit!



I find the door to the roof, shove it open and end up evacuating the damn building because it set off the alarm!  Running across the roof, I notice the next building isn’t as far away as I thought it was going to be.  I pick up speed, step up onto the edge and jump! As I clear the space in between, I hear shouts to stop!  To come back!



Ha! Ha, too bad suckers!



I land hard, twisting my ankle, rolling onto my shoulder, whacking my head hard.  Stars twinkle in my vision for a few moments as I push myself to stand and keep going. 

Their voices are shouting at me to stop. 

I don’t.

Shaking the sudden solar system of stars from orbiting my head, I limp away from them to the door of the roof I’m on. 



It’s locked.



The fire escape is nearby, and so I make my way to it, look down and find that I’m surrounded from below.  There’s red and blue lights flashing off the buildings and I can see dogs running with their trainers waiting for me to climb down, to corner me… to hold me down until the boys in blue slip on my very own, personal pair of steel bracelets; and they’ll put them on just that little too tight.

“Dammit!” I whisper into the dying day hanging onto the top of the ladder of the fire escape to watch the antics below of the tiny people and animals. 

“Come down!” One calls over a loud speaker, “We’ll keep the dogs away from you.  We just have some questions, that’s all.”

Frowning, I tilt my head to the side a little.  This is a lot of hoopla for just a few questions. 



I don’t believe a word of it. 



I turn away from the fire escape but don’t get far.  As I put weight on my twisted ankle, pain shoots up my leg and to my knee and I collapse to the ground!  Checking my right foot, I find it’s swollen up against my shoe and sock, throbbing like hell!… my jeans feel tight around it too.

Dammit, it’s broken!

“So what will it be?” the voice calls from the street, from over the edge of the building behind me, “Will you come down?”

There’s got to be another way out of here.  I push myself off the ground and force my feet to walk  – as painful as it is - to the roof door where I thought I saw it move in the evening breeze.  As I approach it, I find I’m right.  Pushing it open, I wonder if I should trust it; seeing it was locked before, but before I can make a decision, a couple of pairs of hands grab my arms and I’m pulled into the darkness of the stairwell!


Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Promotion



I never thought I’d make it this far in life.  I honestly didn’t.  But there were feet I had to step on, people I had to screw over and friends I ditched to the side of the road to get here.

But now I look back at the road I’ve walked along, I really think I could have done this a little different.  Nearly all of my friends have left me, my family is ashamed of me and anyone I become associated with seems to die or vanish from the face of the planet after a while… either that or I don’t seem to remember meeting them.



Yes, I’ve become very powerful over a short period of time and it’s been a wonderful rollar-coaster of a party I’ve experienced, but it’s also been somewhat of a weird-arse, shitty journey I don’t wish to take again.



Power certainly does corrupt you when you have enough of it.



And I have plenty of power.



I started out being an ordinary tax-payer who drudged to work on the train, reading the paper, wondering how I was going to pay my way.  I happen to look at my watch on Friday 13th, one day, saw it was 11:11pm and made a wish that I had more power to do something different with my life.

When I arrived home, a man was waiting for me.  He wasn’t anyone memorable.  In fact, he seemed to be lost and so I let him use the cordless phone outside where he made a phone call.  He took less than a minute to make his call and barely said anything to the person on the other end, when he finished, turned to me and smiled.

“There you go.  Wish fulfilled.”

“Wish?” I asked.

“Yes, the one you asked for on the train home.” His smile widened, “Don’t you remember, Tanya?”

I thought back to the trainride home and remembered the small, somewhat insignificant wish I had made while staring out the window:  ‘I wish I had more… more power… a better life.’ My eyes widened, “I didn’t mean it… you don’t actually think I meant it, did you?”

“Well, it was made on Black Friday at 11:11pm… the wishing hour.” He said rubbing his fingertips together, “I can’t really take it back.” A wicked grin flashed across his face as he waved a hand in my direction, “Don’t worry, you’ll have fun.  You’ll have all the power you’ve ever wanted or needed… your life will change almost overnight.”



I now look out the window of the hospital where I have been sent to next staring out over the sunrise of Dubai.  Such a beautiful place, but I’ve been here so often lately to… I look down at my hands wishing I didn’t have to do this.

“Tanya, it’s time.” He touches my arm gently.

I look at him, “Don’t tell me my job.”

He lets go of my arm as though it burns him, and a whispered apology reaches my ears, “I’ll be here.”

I look at my ring and wonder if the promotion was all that worth it; if becoming one of them was really all what it was cracked up to be.  After all, I’ve taken my family, friends, people I don’t know…I’ve been at every accident you’ve ever seen on the news, murder upon murder.

And yet, it’s becoming such a burden I wonder if the original guy wants his ring back.  Is he ready to get back his job and let me leave this depressing road of crap to the pros.  I’d love to let him have his job back, really I would. 

But as I have that thought process, the patient in the bed starts having difficulty breathing.  I don’t know him.  He’s not old either, a nice young man with a heart condition – the poor guy.  The machines go bananas as he struggles.  I’ve learned from experience not to let people who are good suffer.  So, I lean down and gently touch his shoulder and his eyes close as his last breath gives out. 

I turn and look to see him standing next to me in his favourite clothing.  He’s almost amazed he’s dead as my Reaper approaches him, “It’s time to go.”

The man looks at me, “Why?”

I tell him the usual line:  “It was your time.  You did nothing wrong.” God I hate my job.  This promotion was not worth it…

“Wasn’t it?” a voice says to my left and I turn to see the man who started my horrible journey.

“No, it wasn’t.” I snapped, “How dare you turn me into a Horseman.”

He seemed surprised, “Oh you know about us.”

“No shit Sherlock.”

“Now, Tanya, you be nice to me… I can be pretty nasty even without my ring.” He waggled a finger at me.

I look to the ceiling and lean against the bed where the doctors have covered up the patient, “I’m sorry.  But what can we do about this thing you’ve sent me on that I don’t want?”

He leaned forward and pointed to my finger carrying the ring, “You give me my ring back, I come off my long hiatus, you go back to your ordinary little human, ant life and your family and friends are restored… just like none of it happened.  But…” he held up his right hand, “… you are the only one to remember this the next time you make a stupid wish.”

“In other words make sure it’s a worthwhile wish.” I mumbled.

“Yes.” He put out his hand.

I took off the ring and suddenly, we’re back at my old house on the front porch where it all began.  It’s just gone midnight from Friday 13th and he’s handed the phone back to me smiling at me, “Thank you for the use of your phone.”

“You’re welcome.” I take it from him as a large, white car pulls to the curb and the door opens.  He walks to the curb, turns and looks at me for a moment before slipping a large ring on his finger and vanishing before my eyes…



… along with the car.