Thursday, March 25, 2010

Flash Fiction 30: Maybe you've heard this one before?

I've fallen and I can't get up! Or have I? This is either a creative commentary about the all-encompassing effect of the constant barrage of marketing on our society, or I was out of my own words and needed to borrow the words of others. You decide :) How much of this have you heard before? Had to leave out many of the classics -- 1000 word limit and couldn't quite work them into the plot. Maybe next time :) Enjoy!


Between love and madness lies obsession, and Karen was very much afraid that her work, finding a solution for a small planet, was there. It was the toughest job she'd ever loved, but sometimes she wondered if simply finding the antidote for civilization would be easier.

Her coworker Susan futily put the unresolved issue to a vote: "alright people, raise your hand if you're sure." Sure enough, there was no agreement. "Nobody? Really? Well I guess if you don't get it, you don't get it. After all, there are thousands of possibilities. Why not ask for more?"

"We've already run through 57 varieties of this conversation, can we please just do it?" Diane requested.

"No, when only the best will do we have to keep going and going and going until we find the one that lasts like a rock. But only diamonds are forever, so we should be sure to use the real thing."

"Oh give me a break. We need to think outside the bun here people. Life's complicated enough without making this a different kind of company. All we need to do is offer a fair and balanced perspective and demonstrate how we can think young and get more. Then people will start seeing small business differently and we'll be good to go. Karen, I know you have a friend in the digital age, what does he suggest?"

"Think," Karen said simply. "He says 'nobody knows it but me' and he's certainly not about to leave the driving to us. He told me that if we want to have billions and billions served we should ask how and ask now. But I believe we should think small. As an army of one we can prevent forest fires and bring good things to life. Seeing what the future has in store makes me proud that I am Canadian and feel that we should reach out and touch someone personally."

"She has a point," Jake mentioned.

"Does she... or doesn't she?" Susan interrupted. "It's good to talk, but maybe it's time to fcuk advertising let our fingers do the walking."

"meow, meow, meow, meow" Diane commented snarkily.

"Let's take a pause that refreshes and consider these options." Jake inserted calmly, "After all, like a good neighbour, we try harder. We are good to the last drop. And if they can't appreciate that, maybe they just don't care enough to send the very best."

"I'm lovin' it," Michael the CEO, previously silent, contributed before excusing himself to attend the greatest show on earth.

"He likes it! Mikey really likes it!" Karen laughed, relieved, as soon as he departed.

"That's news that's fit to print," Jake agreed.

"Well I guess you get to have it your way." Susan resentfully relented. "Same time tomorrow?" she asked, ending the meeting as she gathered up her notes.

"Hey, leggo my eggo!" Diane snapped as Susan accidentally picked up her priceless copper-top pen.

"So where do you want to go today for a quicker picker upper?" Jake asked Karen as they escaped the office to enjoy the ride.

"Where's the beef?" she asked in return.

"At the happiest place on Earth," he commented as he drove them to their favourite pub where they had shared many moments.

"I'm going to obey my thirst and have the king of beers," he told the waitress, "the one that made Milwaukee famous."

"I'd rather have coco pops," Karen commented idly, "they're not just for breakfast anymore."

"Hungry? How bout a finger lickin good burger instead?" the waitress suggested.

"But I'm craving the wave. Have you got milk? And maybe a pizzapizza?"

"We'll see what Brown can do for you," the waitress told her.

They chatted for a bit about the Jake's involvement in the first network for men, where wonders never cease, and how their project could be all that it could be until the waitress reappeared.

"We never stop working for you," the waitress said as she placed the food in front of Karen, " all the taste, 1/3 of the calories! Enjoy!"

"m'm m'm good! Magically delicious really," Karen commented as she took her first bite.

"These are grrrreat! " Jake commented as he snagged a fry. "Betcha can't eat just one!" he stated as he continued to munch her fries.

"I'm sorry," Karen told him sincerely as he neared the end, "but I just don't love you enough to give you my last one."

Jake went to pay the bill, digging his card out of his wallet. "The future takes visa, but for everything else, there's mastercard," he joked.

"We love to see you smile, but unfortunately we don't take mastercard," the waitress told him.

Sighing, Karen dug out her wallet. "Cash," she handed the waitress, "Don't leave home without it!" she reminded Jake. As if they hadn't replayed this same conversation 100 other times.

"Thanks, we love having you here," the hostess stated as they left the restaurant.

After dinner they split up, Jake to go put a tiger in the tank, and Karen to get out there because life is not a spectator sport.

"Have fun; I'll leave a light on for you," he concluded as they went their separate ways.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Flash Fiction 29: Life After Death

She was dead. It was the best she'd ever felt.

She looked out into the sunlight and shivered. She was 19 and it was to have been her wedding day -- she should've been thrilled. All brides long for sun on their wedding days. But to her it was a negative omen; even the weather was conspiring in the deception. As though her marriage were a happy occasion.

A marriage of money to power. The man she was marrying was broke, but politically powerful; a power her father needed on his side. The only way her wealthy father could get the contracts he needed was through this alliance. Her fiancée -- the term had always held such romance for her, now it too seemed to mock her -- her fiancée had made it clear he was marring her solely for the income it would gain him; he had no intention of changing his lifestyle to accommodate a wife. And she wanted nothing to do with his abusive lifestyle.

She had tried to say no; they told the hospital she had fallen down the stairs. She'd always been so clumsy -- good thing she'd have a husband to look after her soon. She ran away; they found her. On the outside, a spoiled teenager who'd been given everything money could buy, too stuck up to even speak to the others at school; on the inside, scared and rapidly sinking into a deep depression. She could see no way out, but despite it all she was proud, too proud to allow herself to be sold to the highest bidder. She'd been privileged to grow up in a free country, but sometimes she felt as though that too were a cruel joke.

She couldn't run -- they were to rich and too powerful. They would find her. She couldn't stay; it was too much for anybody to live with. Her only way out was death. Her mother might mourn, at least a little. Her father and fiancée would be livid that she had spoiled their plans. But perhaps they would realize that they could trade money for power even without her as a pawn. And then they would forget she ever existed.

She hoped.

She planned her death carefully. An eager bride driving too fast up the treacherous mountain road. Would've been better had it been raining, but still believable even in sunlight -- people died there every year. Getting out of having a driver was tricky. She convinced her father that it would be politically unwise for her to show up with a driver while her fiancée had to drive himself, all the while making it seem like she really wanted the limo. The years had taught her to be a brilliant actress and she manipulated the conversation with a skill she hadn't known she possessed. Complete with the almost-hidden sulk when she was ordered to get herself to the church on time. The sulk he would ignore because she tried to hide it and he knew she wouldn't dare disobey. Her parents would go on ahead -- there was work to be done.

She dressed for the wedding she dreaded and left the house only a few minutes earlier than expected. She stopped at the park where the road starts up the mountain and changed as quickly as possible into the jeans and sweat-shirt she'd bought for today. Her wedding dress and shoes she put in a trash bag, and covered with the actual trash she'd taken from their kitchen. The whole collection got thrown in with the many bags in the park trash. The cash she'd been carefully stashing since the day she decided she'd have to die was belted around her waist.
She drove up the mountain, along the winding path. She parked the car and took out her backpack, which held the rest of her cash, some new toiletries and clothes and wig she had purchased. Leaving it by the side of the road she walked up to the curve and peered over. It was a long way down. It would destroy her beautiful little Mercedes. Returning to her car she got in, left the seatbelt undone so if anybody found the car it would at least be plausible that her body was no longer in it, and put the car in drive. She realized quickly this would not be nearly as easy as Hollywood would make it seem; she was just as likely to be killed getting out of the car as going over the cliff. But it was a risk she had to take. Better dead than this life. Holding the door open she perched on the very edge of her seat, with her left foot on the runner, her body half out of the car. And with a deep breath, she floored the gas. The car accelerated with the rapidity it was known for. Right before the road curved treacherously, she set the cruise control and allowed herself to roll out of the rapidly moving vehicle.

She hit the ground hard and it hurt. But it hurt a lot less than being found had. She got up tentatively -- checking to make sure she hadn't broken anything serious; her sweatshirt was shredded and she was banged up, but otherwise ok. The guard was destroyed and her car was gone. Peering over the edge she saw the last of it sinking below; the last of that life. Turning she quickly returned to her bag and ran back down to the park where she'd ditched her wedding dress, ducking off the road into the trees as soon as she could. There she stopped to catch her breath, but the adrenaline was running too fast. She had to keep moving. She didn't have long before they'd realize she was gone and came to find her. She stuffed the sweatshirt in the bag, changing to one of the cheap t-shirts she'd bought and checked as best she could that her blond hair was entirely hidden in her wig, before walking the short distance to the parking lot and hopping on the town bus. Never was she so thankful for the hordes of tourists. She looked like any other backpacker. She hoped.

At the station she stuck beside a group of kids her own age, yet in some ways so very much younger, and when they purchased a long distance hop-on, hop-off travel pass, she did the same -- hoping she'd be instantly forgotten as one of the pack. She checked the schedule and got herself on the first bus leaving. It was going one to New York. She'd been to New York; they knew people there. She couldn't go there. But there were lots of little towns on the way she could stop at. And she would.

She could feel the blood running through her veins. Every sense was super-alert. She was so close to being free. She slouched in her seat and schooled her features so anyone looking would merely see a bored random teen. The bus pulled out of the station, but she couldn't relax. After a couple hours she began to hope that maybe she was free. At every stop she expected somebody to be waiting for her; she changed busses three times in two days before finding herself in a station nearly the opposite side of the country. There she saw the news of her tragic demise broadcast; the body had been swept out to sea. A too young bride, her life cut short as she sped to her wedding. Not wearing her seatbelt. Let this be a lesson.

And though she was young, female, alone, with no id and limited cash, she felt the relief course through her. She was smart, willing to work, and desperate to survive. She would keep moving till she found somewhere she could be safe. A small town where she could settle and live the life she had died to have.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction #28 - The Magic of Spring

This one could've gone two very different ways. I'm not sure I like the one I picked *g* But I picked it because it would allow the story to qualify as Flash :) hahaha Let me know what you think! Enjoy.


It was spring. Well not really, not technically anyways. The calendar said spring was still way off and the groundhog said it'd be even longer. My mother and I voted to have groundhog burgers for dinner when we heard that. Cause it was definitely spring. The first day that you could walk outside, braced for the cold, and then laugh in relief when you discovered it wasn't necessary.

Spring was the season of magic. Every season was magical according to my mother, but I knew better. Because only in spring could I see the Fair Ones.

Oh don't look at me like that. Just because I can see and hear people nobody else can does not mean I'm crazy. I'm simply more receptive; at least in the spring.

I imagine they're really here all year -- I mean logically that's all that makes sense right? It's just that I can only see them in the spring. It might be that New Year's senses are stronger -- with them I can see more than at any other time. Or it could be that they, like us, have an almost childlike glee when the world comes back to life each year, and are perhaps less cautious than otherwise.

Whatever the reason, I know it's spring because I saw the first one today: a young woman. I would've thought she was human were it not for the absolute perfection of her form and the telltale thread of gold running through her hair. She was gardening, and actually deigned to speak to me when I was so rude as to approach her. I was amazed -- they'll sometimes let me listen to them but they almost never acknowledge me. And why should they? Next to them I am, well, not much more than a slug I would imagine. And when was the last time you spoke to a slug? But she spoke to me, and the music of her voice held me enthralled. I sputtered a reply -- I can't even remember what -- but I think I held up my end of the conversation relatively well.

At least I did till we were interrupted. Some random person, their voice dripping with false concern, asking me if everything was ok. "No it's not ok -- you're too bind to see the magic that's in front of you, and because of that, now she's lost to me too." But I only thought the words; experience had taught me that there was no point to itterating my frustration. If they can't see, they can't be shown. Their loss.

But to me, a Fair One had spoken. Life couldn't get much better.

When I got home I had to hide my elation. My mother would understand; she could see the magic too. But the rest of my family could not, and they feared what they didn't understand. They made my mum take pills that blinded her to the magic. Ever since I was very young, when she realized I too could see the Fair Ones, she's warned me never to let them know. So I waited patiently untill she was alone to describe to her the magic she could no longer experience. But containing my excitement was nearly impossible; she could see it in my eyes. She and I offered to go pick up dinner so that we could talk. "They spoke to me today," I blurted the second I got in the car. "Really TO me. Not just around me. How amazing is that?!?" My mother's eyes lit with an excitement I rarely saw these days. She understood how important this was. And more importantly, she remembered. They used to speak to her too -- taught her so much the blind ones would never understand. Things I was only beginning to learn.

That night there was a whisper at my window. It sounded like tree branches rustling in the wind -- but there were no branches there, and even if there had been, there were no leaves. I opened the window and peered down -- the same Fair One who'd spoken to me this morning and her male counterpart stood below; they wanted me to go with them. I hurried outside, afraid to turn away for fear they would vanish but desperate for the unheard of opportunity being offered to me.

They each took one of my hands -- so soft were theirs it was like holding velvet. The golden strip each had in their hair sparkled in the moonlight. Their melodic voices made even small talk captivating. As I followed them I was so grateful for the opportunity that I never questioned where we were going. And when they led me across their lake -- where the stories said the queen lived --I knew their magic was strong enough to carry me.

It never occurred to me that where there's fair, there's probably foul. It never occurred to me they might leave me out there, where mortal legs could not stand. I didn't realize until that moment how much safer my mother was being blind. And I wished, too late, that I had never experienced the magic of the spring.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Flash Fiction 27: One More Minute

As one who is continually doing things at the last second (note the blog post time :), I had some fun with this one. Hope you enjoy!


Time is an unusual creature. When you're standing outside in -20 degree weather waiting for the bus to come, ten minutes can seem a lifetime; but when you're trying to get "just one more thing" done in an all too frantic life, those ten minutes pass in a heartbeat.

The trick, I've learned, is to borrow from the long time to use in short time scenarios. Bet you never realized that when it seemed to be an awfully long ten minutes that's because it was -- but such is life; with the right connections, you can learn all sorts of interesting secrets. And I, luckily, seem to have those connections.

It was one of those seemingly serendipitous moments. I was running late, as usual, having tried to cram in "just one more thing" before leaving for my job interview -- and now I was already a minute late, and as the minutes ticked off far too quickly -- two, three, four minutes late; the elevator still didn't arrive.

My anxiety radiated off me in waves; I was sure they could feel it up in the office. Certainly the guy next to me could; he sent me a look that clearly said "chill"".

"What's so important that it can’t wait for the elevator?" he asked,his tone suggesting he really didn't care but felt compelled to ask.

Almost unwillingly I found myself answering in amounts of detail totally inappropriate for sharing with a stranger. And as I relayed my tragedies large and small a hint of a smile appeared at the corner of his mouth. "Glad I could amuse," I thought sardonically.

"It sounds like what you need is a course in time management," he told me. I thanked him for his suggestion and replied politely that I'd already done that, more than once.

"Not this one you haven't," he stated confidently with an enigmatic smile as he handed me his business card. "Call me when you decide it's time."

Jason Cook, Time Librarian

I only had a second to puzzle over it before the elevator finally arrived to deliver me to my floor.

"You're late," the dour secretary addressed me. And that was the highlight of the interview.

I got home, thoroughly disenchanted with life -- it seemed I'd be staying at my same horrid job a while longer. I dumped my keys and wallet on the desk as always and sticking out of the wallet was the card. Jason Cook, Time Librarian. There was no phone number, only an address.

Googling the address placed it in an area of town that a century ago had probably been quite the ritzy local, but now not so much. Feeling I was setting myself up to be a fool for the second time today, I turned around and walked back out of my apartment.

I soon found myself at the city library. I had to laugh -- at least the prank had some thought behind it. Resolving to follow it through I entered anyway. Worst case, I'd find something to read and hang out for the afternoon.

Surprisingly, Jason cook did appear to work there. Finding his office was a bit of a challenge, but at the top of a nearly hidden stairway was a door with his name on the plaque. My hand hesitated a moment and just as I went to follow through on the knock the door opened. There was nobody inside. I called out tentatively as I let myself in, to no answer. The door slammed shut behind me, making me jump. I spun around but there was still no one to be seen. A note taped to the inside of the door caught my attention:

My apologies for not being here to meet you -- Time is such a fickle master! I'll be back in a nanob (that's 30 long minutes to the uninitiated) and would be honoured if you would deign to sojourn until my arrival.
Yours in time,

Deign to sojourn until my arrival? Who wrote like that? And far more importantly --how did he know my name? Or maybe the note was meant for someone else; it wasn't exactly an unusual name after all. I determined that I would wait for half an hour or until either Jason or the intended Sarah arrived.

I lurked his bookshelves -- lots of history, science fiction, and a Dilbert comic book. Ah well, at least I could relate to that one. The time passed slowly as I continued to doubt the sanity of my staying there. Eventually, Jason Cook arrived; a quick glance at my watch told me it was indeed exactly 30 minutes from when I'd read the note. Eerie.

"So how'd the job interview go?" he asked with a grin that was entirely too knowledgeable.

"Oh about what you'd expect," I told him.

"And if you'd been on time?"

"Probably wouldn't've gone much better," I admitted.

"So what is it you're looking for?" he asked.

"Something better than what I have now," I answered honestly if not politically correctly. I didn't really care what it was so long as it paid the bills and got me out of where I currently was.

"See here's the thing," he stated, "I need an assistant, and I think, with some training, you'd be perfect. You certainly understand the need for what we do."

Seriously doubtful as to the sincerity of the offer, I couldn't help but ask the obvious question, "What is it you do?"

"I'm a time librarian. I lend, and collect, time." Uh huh, at that I turned to leave. "Bet your wait seemed longer than 30 minutes," he stated. "But the clock told you that's how long it was. And you believed it." I stopped and raised an eyebrow in exaggerated disbelief.

"Look Sarah, the thing is, the moment you're born you're given a set amount of time -- and that time is divided into short time and long time. Short time is when hours seem to pass in seconds. It keeps life moving and makes the world an interesting place. Long time as created to balance it out. It's when time seems to take forever to pass.

"But sometimes people don't like the balance they've been given, and so they want to trade long minutes for short ones, or less often, the reverse."

“So what’s the exchange rate on minutes?” I asked, as though I believed a word of this.

“At the moment it’s 0.5 SM to 1 LM.” Somehow I was only slightly surprised at the instant answer.

“So somebody can give you two of their long minutes – that would be used waiting in line or generally killing time, in return for one short minute to use when having ‘one more minute’ really matters?” I reiterated for clarification.

“Exactly,” Jason confirmed.

I had to admit the theory had its uses but, “if people buy short minutes with long minutes, they’re left with fewer total minutes. How do they get them back?” I asked.

“They don’t,” Jason told me bluntly. “The brightest flames burn the fastest; the same is true for people. We believe it’s up to each individual to use the time they’ve been given in a manner they see fit. Most prefer to live quickly –- which is good for business since our profit comes from collecting long minutes. But there are those who prefer a slower life, and for them it’s a great deal! Two long minutes for every one short!"

I briefly tested my conscious to ascertain if I had any serious moral concerns about this whole idea; quickly deciding not, I figured I’d use up my remaining vacation trying this job to see if it was for real. But something puzzled me, “So what do you do with all the saved up long minutes?” I asked.

“Well that is precisely how we stay in business. You see long minutes are the key to time travel.”