Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing Prompt #76

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

You become a character in a classic video game.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

#FridayFlash--The Fortune Cookie

The Fortune Cookie

Charles set down his chopsticks and let out a sigh. He couldn't eat another bite. The Orange-Flavored Chicken at Lu's was the best money could buy, both taste and portion-wise. He'd barely touched the fried rice, but that would heat up just fine for lunch tomorrow. Of course, he still had room for the fortune cookie. It wouldn't be a Lu's meal without that.

He broke open the plastic wrapper, devoid of the usual advertising. Strange. For as long as he could remember, Lu's address and phone number adorned the wrapper. Mr. Lu must have decided to save a bit of money. Didn't really matter, as long as the cookie was still light and tasty.

It snapped in two, same as always, and the fortune fell into his palm. These were silly, but he still got a kick out of reading them. Lu's fortunes weren't really fortunes at all, but silly sayings or old proverbs. When they did predict the future, it was something mundane that didn't matter anyway. So when Charles read this one, he let out a gasp.

"Tomorrow at noon, duck." And not only that, there were five lucky numbers listed: 2, 17, 23, 38, 41.

"What in the world?" Definitely a new cookie company. Seemed a little too specific. Whoever wrote this one probably just wanted to get as many people to look silly at noon as possible. As Charles tossed his trash, for some reason he pocketed the fortune. Just for laughs. Or at least that's what he told himself.


At lunch the next day, Charles found himself alone on the company smoking porch. He popped a cigarette into his mouth and reached into his pocket for his lighter. His knuckles brushed against a scrap of paper, which he fished out. The fortune from yesterday. He'd forgotten he'd put that in with his change and keys this morning. Why, he didn't know, but it sounded like a good idea at the time.

He glanced at his cell phone. 11:58. Should he duck? No one was out here, so he wouldn't look goofy to anyone but himself. He lit the cigarette and looked out into the beautiful courtyard the company provided. Sure, the hours sucked and the work was repetitive and boring, but at least he got this view a few times each day.

Noon. He chuckled and bent down to tie his shoe, just in case anyone was watching from one of the windows. Why he was following the random advice from the cookie was beyond him, but why not? It wouldn't hurt anything. And he could share a goofy story with the cute counter girl at Lu's next time he was there.

Glass shattered behind him. He fell on his butt and looked up. A bullet hole spider webbed the thick window. He peeked inside and saw an upper-management-type slumped over dead, blood trickling out onto his desk from the hole in his chest. Charles figured if he could see the floor behind the dead man, there'd be a puddle of organs and gore.

He looked up near the top of the buildings forming the triangular courtyard. Nothing. At that moment, his bravery--or shock; he wasn't sure which--wore off, and he dashed away. Should he tell anyone, or simply hope there were no cameras out here to pick up his presence? Had the cookie really saved him? Somewhere in the back of his mind, those five lucky numbers danced. He'd have to hit a convenience store on the way home to play the lottery.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Writing Prompt #75

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

You can't let the clock strike twelve!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#FridayFlash--Church Bells

Church Bells
by Eric J. Krause

The church bells sounded down the street, as loud as if he were right next door. The ceremony was about to begin. Soon there'd be another Mrs. McGillicutty in town. Jonah was a good kid; no doubt he'd picked a woman who'd be as loved as the elder Mrs. McGillicutty.

He picked up his Jack and Coke and drained it in one swallow. His refill had more Jack than Coke.

Weddings always turned him introspective, made him melancholy. His had been wonderful, the highlight of his life. And Shirley couldn't have been a more beautiful bride. God, she'd been a looker back then. Back before it had all gone wrong.

He didn't like shouldering all the blame--Shirley had hit the bottle almost as hard as him when they lost their son--but he couldn't denounce he owned most of it. He'd been the one to turn violent when he had too much drink in him. She merely grew weepy. And helpless.

The next glass held all Jack except for a slight splash of Coke for flavor. The bride's limo sped past. Those church bells must've been the signal for her driver. Either that or she was running late. He tried to wave, but his hand wouldn't obey. Hell, what did it matter? She didn't know him, and he didn't know her. He couldn't even remember her name, though it'd been plastered in the paper often enough this week. And why not? She was marrying into local royalty, wasn't she?

Shirley hadn't, but she knew it going in. He wished it could have been different, but they married for love, not money or fame. He downed the rest of his Jack and grimaced. But that was true for most people. All these damn newspaper stories on the McGillicuttys and their ilk sometimes made the common man forget that.

He didn't bother pretending with his next refill. It held all Jack, no Coke. Trouble? You betcha, but he was beyond caring. If he knew what was coming next, though, he might've. Not likely, but maybe.

Those church bells chimed again. This time telling people to take their seats; the bride she was a-comin'. No backing out now, Jonah McGillicutty. It was for better or for worse time.

When Shirley walked down to the tones of that ancient organ, it looked to be for the better. Too bad everything ended up for the worse. He slugged down the Jack and didn't bother pouring more. If he wasn't going to mix it with Coke, might as well take it straight from the bottle.

Shirley stood staring at him from the sidewalk, as fresh and pretty as their wedding day all those years back. He shook his head and blinked hard. When the liquor allowed him to refocus on the yard, not only was she still there, but she now stood in the middle of the lawn.

"Shirl?" he managed to croak out. No, that wasn't her, but an illusion brought on by Mr. Jack and the thoughts of weddings. His Shirley hadn't moved in over ten years. She lay right where he put her--buried in cement under the porch.

The world spun, and by the time he caught himself and righted his perspective, she stared at him from the base of the steps. Somewhere in the back of his mind he heard the church bells. No doubt Jonah McGillicutty had received the instructions to kiss his bride. In a few minutes time, they'd ring again, this time as the newlyweds dashed to their waiting limo. When he and Shirley made that sprint, not to a limo, but to his old Ford pickup, the guests had tossed rice. Now they'd blow bubbles; the elder Mrs. McGillicutty had never met an environmental cause she didn't like. Not that it mattered to him. He wouldn't be around for that final volley of church bells. That he knew for certain.

Shirley now stood above him, her perfume a mix of decay and that lavender scent he always adored. Her face held the same slack expression she wore that night after he choked her to death. He hadn't wanted to, but she made him. Divorce? No, that wasn't an option. Sure she'd caught him in the act with Sandi Lee Parker, but if she'd taken care of her wifely duties, he never would have strayed. Yeah, the loss of little Edgar to crib death had devastated him, too, but he still had urges. And she had plenty of time to grieve.

As she stared down at him, he wondered if she'd choke his life away. Tit for tat. She wouldn't need to get rid of his body or keep a dirty secret for so many years. She'd be able to simply blink out of existence and head to Heaven, Hell, or wherever. Maybe they'd be square and she'd drag him along.

Whatever she decided, she took too long, and he couldn't bear the wait. He grabbed the bottle of Jack, still half-full, and slammed that bitter liquid. He sputtered a few times, but managed to down it all. The bottle tumbled from his grasp, and through his murky, black-lined vision, he couldn't see her. He'd bested her again. Or so he thought. As the dark closed around him, her quiet chuckle, the one he loved to draw out of her when she was alive, sounded in his ear.

Down the street, the church bells sang to the town, proclaiming another couple now lived in holy matrimony. And he'd been right; he wasn't around to hear it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Writing Prompt #74

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as science fiction this week, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

The tender, tasty meat at that new restaurant comes from space aliens.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

#FridayFlash--The Last Time

The Last Time
by Eric J. Krause

Rich watched her sleep. So peaceful, his Mary. He hated seeing her in so much pain, which was why the night was fast becoming his favorite time.

Every morning, as he cooked her breakfast, he wondered if it would be the last time. As he gave her a kiss when she left for work or on an errand, he wondered if it would be the last time. Anything she did, he wondered if it would be the last time.

She murmured a few words, which brought tears to his eyes. This was it, the moment he'd feared for so long. He placed a kiss on her forehead for the last time, placed the barrel of the gun to her temple, and pulled the trigger.

He ignored the gore on her pillow and put the gun in his own mouth. She hated him, was tired of their life together, but he couldn't divorce her, and he wouldn't tolerate cheating. Now her dream mumbles convicted her. And him. He pulled the trigger for the last time.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Writing Prompt #73

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as horror this week, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

There's a strange bacteria in the town's water supply