Flash Fiction: ‘Leave the Gate Open’

It’s been quite a while since I did one of these, but I’m keen to start cracking out the flash at least once a week. Here’s my stab at last week’s Terrible Minds flash fiction challenge. Slightly over the word count, but what you gonna do?

Here’s the stipulations:

It starts with a bang.

That’s all the inspiration you need.

I want you to write a short story with that in mind — the tale must begin with a bang. You can, erm, interpret that how you choose, but it definitely means we begin in the middle of the action.

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‘Another Skin’

I must be getting forgetful. Before, I’d never leave the curtains open. But the sudden smell of smoke, seared flesh, reminded me too late that I’d done so.

In all honesty, I wasn’t me who’d always remembered to close them. She had done it for me as I slept. So when I woke, pouring myself a first cup of steaming, black coffee, I was basked in a glorious, cool darkness.

But she wasn’t here anymore to remember these things for me. Not I had to learn to remember. But I’ll forget by tomorrow. And the next day. Probably every day until one morning I wake up to more than my hand smouldering.

Can’t even find the cups. There was definitely a clean one around the house, but I’ve lost it now. Today I’ll have to go without coffee. I’ll get used to it.

With four hours until sunset I began to dress. You can never be ready too early. Punctuality is, after all, a virtue. And I was running very short of any others.

After thirty or forty minutes of matching shirt to tie, I found I had no jackets. Settling for jeans and a t-shrit nearby on the floor, I sat on the edge of the bed and waited for the sun to go away.

Easing my shoes off as I felt them begin to cramp my toes, I tucked my feet under the bed. There’s something comforting about sitting with your legs under you, like sitting on the floor at school with a glass of milk, listening to a story about nothing in particular.

Pressing them further, my feet felt the edge of something pressing into the sole.

Intrigued, I stood from the bed and brought myself to my knees, peering underneath. Where my feet had been exploring was a small box, neat and square, resting.

Inside were a simple pair of gloves. Black leather, with no label. I’d never liked designer objects. As I put them on I saw a small note at the bottom of the box.

It read: “Don’t be afraid.”

Replacing the note in the box, I put the gloves on, pressed my naked feet back into my shoes and head to the front door. It was getting dark.

‘Heart in a Jar’

On the mantelpiece in my living room there’s a small jar, sealed shut. Inside it’s a heart. A real, actual factual heart. Not human of course. It was given to me one year by my significantly better other half, Carla, who preserves organs – human – in jars. This piece of flash is about it.

On the window sill sits the heart in the jar. She gave it to me two weekends ago.

We’d been walking in the woods, as we had done each weekend for the last two years, when she stopped under a fledgling oak tree and presented me with a box, square and tightly wrapped.

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Snakes and Ladders

“You’ll need a ladder.” I looked up to see the owner of the voice. A little girl, observing me curiously. “You’re going to need a ladder,” she repeated.

“I’m not sure what use a ladder will be to me right now. I’m trying to have a picnic. Alone,” I said, indicating towards a half eaten pork pie and some sorry looking sandwiches. “I can’t eat a ladder.”

“You’ll die without a ladder. They’re coming,” she said, pointing behind me and crouching down to take an eclair. I looked around, taking in the beautiful, open field. Nothing appeared to be coming. Though my desserts were certainly going somewhere. I turned back to ask her to stop pilfering my pudding, but she had gone.

As I returned to my pork pie, I heard a buzzing wind. A sound as if hundreds of bees were trapped inside gale, frantically trying to escape. It was getting louder. Dozens of birds disappeared overhead, scattered amongst the sky.

Suddenly I was surrounded. Countless eyes looked into mine. Each pair attached to grotesque, serpentine creatures that looked part teeth, part bigger teeth. Their pale pink bodies pulsated, blocking every route of escape. Except up.

‘Empty Seat’

flash fiction_noface

“You’re sitting on my bag, sir”. People are rush hour really had no common sense. He was sitting on my bag, could he not tell? I’d done this journey for nearly seven years, up and down the train line. Every day someone arrived to spoil my journey – if only the trains ran to such a schedule. I persisted,“excuse me, my bag – you’re on it. Are you an idiot of simply ignorant?” He Finally a reaction, he turned.

As he did, I saw his face. There wasn’t one. No eyes, no mouth, no lips, no skin. Just a black void staring back. After a brief, insolent pause he turned away again leaving me to stare momentarily startled at the back of his head.

I couldn’t see his ears, but he quite clearly heard me. Why didn’t he move? What utter rudeness. No apology, nothing. I gripped the edge of my bag and pulled at it, yanking it from under him and returned to my paper and made a mental note to book first class from now on. At least there’d be some manners present.