Category Archives: flashfiction

Flash and Five Sentence Fiction

Wow, it’s been 2 frickin’ years since I updated here.

First, I did publish on Amazon. I have 4 erotic short stories, one bundle, and one paranormal romance. They’re up under a pen name. Because erotica. Deal with it. 2 more paranormal romances are in progress and then I think I might just switch to science fiction/urban fantasy/whatever the fuck it is that I write.

I need to do more. Because I took the separation package at the day job and that ends at the end of 2016. Good news is that I have time to actually put up or shut up.

Second, Lillie McFerrin never came back with her Five Sentence Fiction. I think I will re-start it and go with some giveaways, like maybe a $5 Amazon gift card or something, as a prize each week. You have to have a Gravatar or whatever, some sort of account, so I don’t get anonymous spam. I’d have to have a separate site for that, I think. Maybe a sub-site, like http://fivesentencefiction.stevehusted.com or something.

Third, Friday Flash is gone, absorbed into social media. I think it was only other writers, anyway, so that’s not a big deal. I stopped posting my flash fiction because if I put it online anywhere, that counts as published and a lot of places won’t touch it.

…then I never published any of them, anyway.

So I think my plan is to publish Flash Fiction here again as maybe a teaser for the full thing on Amazon. Also, if I don’t want to finish it, I don’t have to. Or I can store these “story kernels” here for safe keeping.

Either way, gonna write a whole lot more now that I have 8-10 hrs/day that I didn’t have before.

The Gate in the Woods

If you’re ever walking deep in the woods in an old New England town, hope and pray you don’t come upon a gate to nowhere. But if you do, whatever you do, do NOT open it.

************

I wanted to, but was afraid. I’m always afraid. Poor ‘fraidy cat Freddy, that’s what they said. Before I did what I did. But that’s not to say that I am not afraid. Because I am.

Mikey and Scott went into the woods that day with me. They said they found an old Hustler, a half a cigarette and a spilled bottle of beer in the woods that some older kids must have left in there; good thing the dumbasses didn’t light the whole place on fire, the fucking ‘tards.

I went with them to their Hustler, and we bet that whoever got a boner first had to smoke the rest of the cigarette. I cursed and swatted at the gnats. Scotty held back a branch just long enough for it to hit me and laughed.

And then Mikey found something.

We were in the woods and we heard Mikey yelling and we ran after him, wondering if a wild coon got at him or something, maybe a bobcat or coyote. My heart was pounding as we crunched the leaves on the way to the clearing. Nope, not a coon: it was a gate. A gate in the woods.

Now, if you’re not from these parts, you have to understand something. You see, there are old walls running randomly through the woods. Back in the early days, they used to come through and farm these lands, and when they did, there were so many stones that they had to figure out what  to do with them. So they built great stone walls around the farms with the stones they hauled out of the land as they tilled it up.

So it’s not unusual to see a stone wall in the woods.

Well, that’s not to say it’s not unusual to see what I seen there that day, that gate. This one was a couple of raised stone pillars to which were attached two iron gates. Closed. With a lock and key. The iron was laid in a pattern that looked like a bird’s wings, only fancier.

But the strange thing, you see, isn’t that this existed. It’s that there was just a high pillar/post thing and then that was it. No stone wall. Just a stone support on each side of the gate. And the gate was LOCKED. Now what in the hell would someone come out in the woods and do that for?

Mikey was grunting and sweating as he tried to jimmy it open but couldn’t get it. Scott tried hitting it with rocks, but it just sparked and echoed. Then Scott had an idea and came back with an old master skeleton key that his granddad gave him. It was a rusty old thing that was supposed to be a family symbol or some shit, I didn’t know, what’s the fucking difference?

Anyway, that key, it worked.

Scott put the key in, grabbed it with two hands, and unlocked it with a grunt. A crow took off from behind us and scared me; Scotty called me a wuss and punched my arm. We pushed open the gate and one side swung all the way out with a groan. It was quiet in the woods just then.

Mikey went through first and disappeared as he walked through the gate. We ran around the other side and he wasn’t there. We threw a rock at the opening and it disappeared without a sound.

Well, what else do boys do? We ran.

We got to talkin’ and didn’t know what to do. At first. So we told our folks, who told his folks. Then his folks and the cops were asking lots of questions and we didn’t know what to say; they’d think we were smoking some funny stuff up there in the woods, which ain’t to say that it was too far fetched, but we really hadn’t been and I don’t know what I could have said otherwise, so we told the truth.

Nobody believed us, of course, and they figured Mikey was hurt and we got scared and left him.

As the search teams got together, we went up ahead with them and then we branched off toward the gate. It was getting dark. We got brave. Or we got stupid, same difference.

Standing in front of the gate in the twilight, we shook on it. We decided to go through together.

With a flash of blue and a whooshing sound, Mikey fell back through the gates. Only it wasn’t Mikey. It was a ghost of Mikey. Scratch that, it wasn’t really a ghost, either, it was Mikey but he was laughing in a raged panic and his hair was bright white and he just thrashed on the ground for a while before we decided to hold on to him and get him to the search party.

Only they didn’t know what to do, either. So we told them about the gate again. Old man Hicks, he fell back, pissed his pants, and just sorta stared off into space.

“I seen it before,” he said and looked up at us with trembling eyes. “I seen it and I didn’t think it would come back. You boys don’t know what you did. You don’t know…”

I realized that Mikey had stopped laughing and was glaring at me. Sweat was running down his face and his left hand was clenched in a fist. We all turned and looked at him as he made his move. He was running back towards the gate.

“Let him go, ain’t no use,” Hicks was staring at the ground, talking to nobody. He was shaking and crying. “Ain’t no use!”

We got back to the gate just in time to see three tall, dark, crowned figures standing in front of the gate. One lifted a hand, pointed at Mikey, who just fell forward and landed face-first in the leaves.

“Mikey!” I shouted and ran towards him, but Scott caught my arm and pulled me down onto my ass. “Hey, what the-”

Scott was staring at the figures. A loud, rumbling sound was growing and pulsing against me. They turned towards us, their blue eyes had fog like dry ice wisping off of them.

“Choose,” the first figure said.

“What? Choose what?” I said, pushing myself up and brushing the dirt off my butt. When I looked back at them, they were right in front of me.

One time, I killed a rat with a bb gun and kept it in a box in a tree. After a couple of days, it smelled real bad. REAL bad. That’s the smell these ghosts had and it just about knocked me back on my ass.

“CHOOSE.”

I looked over at Mikey, face down in the dirt, then back at Scott, his face pale and fixed, and heard the rest of the group coming up behind us.

I looked at the ghost and chose.

*********************

Author’s Notes

I haven’t written any flash fiction for a while, but I wanted to get my 50,000 words this month for NaNoWriMo, so I went back to some of my story stubs, which are ideas that I save as drafts on my blog so I don’t forget about them. Some of them are pretty bad when I put some time between me and them, and others are okay, and some are stories that I’ve had in my head for a really long time.

This story is based on an older story of the first wormhole travel. I remember reading this story in the seventh grade, way back in the mid ’80s, but I don’t remember who wrote it. Maybe Bradbury? Seems like one of his. Anyway, the story is about the first travel via some sort of portal and you can travel safely as long as you don’t open your eyes, or you age hundreds of years in the instant between entering one side and exiting the other side.

I must have really liked the story because it stuck with me all these years. I wanted to do my own twist on it, an homage to one of my favorites, and so I had this stub of a story written out for about seven months now. It took me a while, but I finally got back to it. Life, it seems, has a tendency to get away from you at times. You’ve got to kick yourself in the ass and get back on the path before you end up wandering aimlessly down the Lost Path. Which is another story.

 EDIT:

The story that inspired me was a Stephen King story in Skeleton Crew that I rediscovered while re-reading the book in early 2014.

Five Sentence Fiction – Flowers

Five Sentence Fiction – Flowers

skull flower

***************

He squinted in the bright light reflecting off the Lake of the Damned. He lifted his hat and tucked his hair as he worked his way down towards something that caught his eye. A skull, twisted and grotesque, afflicted with some ancient malady, lay atop a decayed cloth. He pulled the flower from between her teeth and put it between his so he could use both hands to open his bag.

He heard the click too late, damned to join her forever.

**************

Author’s Notes

I figured most people would use the “flowers” inspiration to go for funerals or loved ones. I went with a fantasy/adventurer approach. Then I found that skull flower picture and had to go with it as inspiration.

 

Dance with the dead in my dreams

I wrote this short story in 2009, before I even knew that flash fiction was a *thing.* It was initially based on a real dream that I had, then I listened to some Slayer the next day and the lyrics (to “Dead Skin Mask”) just clicked. I made some edits below and it’s actually pretty refreshing to see that while my style has evolved, it has stayed faithful, but that my writing has gotten tons better.

Jeff Hanneman, the guitarist from Slayer, died on May 2, and this is the best tribute I could think of.

*******************

Dance With the Dead

The boom boom boom of the trance music caught my ear. I was at the door, tentative and breathing heavy.

Taking the step up into the house, I realized I was being led into my grandparents’ house. The place had been turned into a rave, disco lighting and the stink of teenage sweat mixed with the sharp bite of uncertainty. The disco lights broadcast a tight staccato with the rhythm, blue and yellow pulsing to the beat.

The music roared with a static overtone and I winced. The bass alternated in a downbeat and a slightly higher pitched upbeat, with a rapid fire ts ts ts ts-ts ts ts ts in the background, with a trance electronica overlaid on that. The bass hurt my chest.

I struggled to make out the figures; several people had their arms up, profane undulations to the rhythmic orgasm, pounding away, pounding, pounding away and muting the voices.

The voices.

I could see them talking, but I couldn’t hear them. As I looked around, all at the outskirts, firmly seated against the walls, were elderly people. One man had horn-rimmed glasses and a plain hat, and, from the looks of it, didn’t have his dentures in. He gave a curt, grotesque, brusque smile and I pressed on through the crowd.

They were all looking at me. Some smiling knowingly. Some with vapid, blank stares that betrayed nothing. But those eyes. I saw all their eyes at once. I became at one with the world in a boundless zen moment.

Passing through the dining room, the kitchen, and into the living room, I continued to stare around at the rave, wondering what the fuck was going on. I stepped down, my bare toes squishing into the soft carpeting, pausing to enjoy the feeling.

But something was bothering me. Not the rave in my grandparents’ house – that was actually pretty cool. But something about the people… they were all… all… I think they were all dead.

Dance with the dead in my dreams.

And a younger woman with no real face approached me, leaned into me, and yelled into my ear so I could hear her over that sultry groove tempting me, begging me to let my body absorb the beat. I knew I mustn’t give in. That I must listen.

Listen to the hallowed screams.

I looked up at her and nodded; her hand was cold as she led me up the stairs. The dark, narrow, creaking staircase. Into the darkness beyond, taking us to where we mustn’t go.

The dead have taken my soul.

FridayFlash – Love and Power

“Ha, yeah, that’s hi-LAR-ious,” Billy wasn’t really a guy that appreciated humor. He really just wanted to get stuff done. They’d been working on the car all day.

“Shut up, dick.” Jesse, on the other hand, had a sharp wit and liked to push and poke on Billy until he got mad. Jesse farted and waved it under the car at Billy.

“Jesus, you nasty bastard! Just hand me the goddamn 15mm deep well socket,” Billy said. “Sheesh, sometimes I wonder if it’s worth having you around.”

The mosquitos and mosquito hunters were in full force as the night crept up on them.

Billy groaned as he pushed himself out from under the car. “There, that should do ‘er. Let’s get all this stuff out of the way.” He breathed in the cool night air and paused to consider the stars.

The engine roared to life and they shot each other a knowing glance. A couple of revs and they were even happier.

**********

“So far, so good. Let’s take her out to the airfield so we can open her up where nobody’s around,” Billy patted Jesse on the back, backed out of the garage and fumbled for the garage door clicker.

A couple of turns out of the neighborhood and Billy mashed the pedal, fishtailing the back end.

“Hooey!” Jesse yelled out the window at nobody, the creases by his eyes deep as he squinted into the wind.

“More power than I expected…” Billy faded off. The design was something he’d been working on for a while. Had the idea in high school, in fact, but could never afford the time or the space to do anything about it until now. Hadn’t needed to build it until now. Billy raised an eyebrow at the steady burble of the exhaust, then reached over to the center console and closed all the windows.

“What are doin’, man? It’s a nice night out,” Jesse knew what Billy was going to do. “She’s gone, Billy,” he said and tightened down his ball cap and settled back into the seat with a sigh.

“It’s time.”

**********

The back road ended and they crossed the abandoned rice fields to the back fence, which they’d already cut open and used a few times before when they did the dry run. A fog settled as they felt the tires embrace the runway.

Billy two-footed the brake and the gas, spinning up the tires, smokin’ them. Jesse smiled a weak smile.

“Dang it, Billy – you sure?”

“You can get out if you don’t want to.”

“Nah. I’m here for ya, man.” The air was thin and the silence was broken by the crickets and frogs resuming their chorus.

Billy pulled a tight u-turn and made his way back to the start of the runway, sighed, looked at Jesse, who nodded slightly at him, and put the car in “sport” mode, then pulled the stick back to “Billy” mode to turn on his modification.

“We only get once. Don’t fuck it up.” Jesse cleared his throat, reached up and grabbed the handle, knuckles white.

The acceleration pushed them back hard into their seats. The roar of the engine, at first, sent giddy shivers up their spines, but the fear of the speed and the limits of the runway weighed heavy on their minds.

60… 80… 120… the boost kicked in … 240… 340… phase II boost… 500… the sonic boom shattered windows in a nearby commercial complex… phase III boost… 800… 2000… 5000… the gravity machine was at full power now and turned on.

The outside world faded into slow motion at first, then a swirl of the deep colors of the night, then a blast of light blinded them in the car. Finally, an all-encompassing darkness.

************

“Billy! Billy! Wake UP.”

Billy woke to Jesse shaking his arm and slapping him in the face. “What the- knock it off! I’m up, I’m up…”

“Billy, for chrissakes, Billy, look around! You crazy motherfucker, you did it!” Jesse was standing outside the car in the soft light of the morning.

Billy cautiously opened the door and pulled himself out of the car, cursing his weak back and knees. “Now how the heck do you know it worked? You wouldn’t know your ass from a – ”

“Shut up, Billy, just… Shut. Up.”

Billy narrowed his eyes and leaned on the open car door, glaring at Jesse, then following Jesse’s gaze to his right. “I can’t -” he stammered. “I won’t – ” he couldn’t get more than two words out before he fell back into the driver’s seat, staring at nothing.

“Get in. I have to go see her.”

*********

Author’s notes

I had an idea as I was working on my car, installing the last of the (first round of) performance upgrades. It was a combination of ideas from several places. I watched an old Code Monkeys episode where the nerdy lead developer had a relationship with Kit, the car from Knight Rider, and they said that car had 800 horses under the hood. That’s impressive.

Then I had another discussion where we were saying that 350 horses wasn’t that much, which is crazy because 10 years ago it was a LOT. You can get 550-600 horses for a reasonable price today. By that I mean not Lamborghini or Ferrari prices.

And I always laughed at the surprising power of the car in Men in Black.

Have you seen the ramjet ultrasonic planes the US military has? They need to be brought up to a minimum speed from an external source before they can have their unique engine (no moving parts) kick in.

So my thought was, what if you had a car that could go faster and faster, and eventually a secondary engine kicked on after you got to a certain speed, which went even faster. I thought about SpaceBalls, where they went to Ludicrous Speed, then went to Plaid, and that was a loose inspiration for this story.

But that’s not a story. That’s a technical background. The story is two buddies working on a car in a garage. Typical. But then you learn about “her.” Who is she? What happened? Then you get teased about the invention he was finally able to install. What does it do? How does it work? They finish, there’s more power than he thought, and the tension builds until they seem to have a strange trip, but we don’t know where/when/why.

Perhaps I’ll finish this story later as a novella if there’s interest.

Horse Head Man

Horse Head

************************

horse mask

The man with the horse head comes to me when I need him. He comes to me and I feel him and I go to look and he is always *there.* There being there, wherever *there* is.

Do you understand?

He’s there when I open the door. He’s there in the night when I open the blinds. He’s there when I pull back the ventilation duct grill. He’s there when I lift the doorway access to the attic.

He’s there for me.

I first met him on the internet, believe it or not. He was in pictures on Google Street View. I found him and he was looking at me. I don’t think anyone else could see him. I looked in Mexico, he was there. I looked in Brazil, he was there. I looked in Iceland, he was there. Everywhere I looked, he would crop up.

Then he cropped up in my dreams. He doesn’t talk to me, but I know, I could *feel* that he was on my side, that he was good.

Do you understand?

I could fucking *feel* it in me.

He’s usually naked with a horse’s head. Not a real horse’s head, of course – it ‘s a plastic horse’s head. It always the same. It’s always looking right at me. Always.

**************

The horse head man hasn’t always been there, but I’ve been so happy since he was there. I was so happy that he took care of things for me. Not little things, bigger things. He was there when I needed to get back at others without linking back to me. He was there when I was getting bullied and pushed around. He was there when wanted to avoid a messy divorce. He was there when that bitch wouldn’t take care of the pregnancy.

Now that I think about it, he was there for a long time before I really understood. That kid in the 10th grade that wanted to fight me for no reason – the horse head man was there, standing in the shadows of the maple tree when Scott punched me at the bus stop.

Then he was there when Scott fell and broke his leg.

He was there when I was masturbating out behind the shed. He was close then. So close but I didn’t recognize it as him. Not yet. I wasn’t fully aware. I am now. I recognize the feeling. I understand what it means.

Do you understand?

Now, I call to him and he comes to me. I don’t so much call him as “will” him to come to me. I don’t need to catch a glimpse of him in the shadows, like I said, he’s there when I open the blinds or pull open the ventilation grill. He’s there and he listens to me, and then he goes away and things happen.

One time, I went to him and I was selfish about it. I thought it was the right thing to do, and he punished me. Or at least I think it was him. No, it was. He punished me by pushing me away and wreaking havoc on me. Havoc and mayhem. I have the scars to prove it.

Mustn’t be selfish. Mustn’t be selfish.

Or maybe it’s all in my head. I can’t tell anyone – how could I? I’d get locked up for sure.

*****************

In the cold of the night, I woke up because I felt him. I opened the closet door and he was there, his horse head pushed down through the attic access panel in the ceiling, my skin pricked up in goosebumps and I knew I had to follow.

The attic smelled musty and old, you know, that same smell in everyone’s attic. The insulation was pushed aside into a nest and I clenched my eyes shut for a few seconds to get used to the dark.

His nest was filled with clippings. Clippings of me, secret photos that neither he nor I had taken. Secrets that I would prefer that nobody knew. My stomach tightened and my throat went dry; he had some pretty damning dirt on me.

“What do you want?” I turned to ask him but he was gone already. I turned back to the nest and it was gone, too. I scrambled out of the attic and into the shower to wash off the insulation, the stink of attics and betrayal, of misplaced trust and a lifetime of black debt.

****************

I felt him again the next night, and this time I met him in my back yard, the crisp smell of night shocking my lungs. He disappeared into the bushes between my yard and Tara’s yard (the bitch). I jogged to catch up to him.

Going through the bushes, I turned my head and put my hand over my eyes to block out the bright light. I was in a garden and there were others like him, like my horse-headed man, wandering about.

I jumped when he put a hand on my shoulder – he had never touched me before – and he held my arm and led me to a door. The door had a minimalist, iconic design of a human head and a horse’s head on it. He put my hand on the handle and gestured for me to go inside.

****************

Author’s Notes

I really did have a dream that a horse-headed man would do my dirty deeds. I decided it was an interesting tale. I leave it up to you, gentle reader, to decide what happens behind that door. Do I become him? Do I join him as a horse-headed man? Do I die?

Shedding Skin

************

Shedding Skin

*************

I awoke to nothing but pain. I wanted to scream but could feel the sensors attached to me and I didn’t want to betray my emotions.

I screamed, silently, inside.

I screamed for so long, I don’t know how long, but it was as long as I had ever remembered keeping time.

I began to lose myself.

When I finally got the gumption to get up and look at myself, I was completely different in the mirror. Who was this man? This beast? This magnificent example of humanity all wrapped up into one tasty morsel? I don’t know, exactly, what to say, but it was me.

I saw me in him and I clawed at the mirror and growled. And then I turned away from the hideousness.

I felt it inside me. I felt that same old compulsion ripping up my insides and telling me what to do. Willingly. And I liked it. I liked doing what it told me to do.

Hell, I fucking loved it.

And I looked in that mirror and I smelled fear and I tasted the satiety of fullness. I touched myself in the reflection and stroked myself and licked my lips. Yeah. Me. Yeah.

Who are you to say that I am not whole? Who the fuck do you think you are?

I ripped at my flesh and it felt new and dangerous. It felt sacred and unholy all at once. I ripped against it until I couldn’t feel anymore.

*************

I awoke in new skin, again, and it was itchy and smelled of death. I clawed at it and pulled on it but it was attached too well. It was me. Again. I hate you. I hate me.

Sleep came in fits and starts and the nightmares filled me up. I awoke, angry and alone, sweating, and threw my pillow across the room. “Fuck you!” I yelled at nobody, at everybody.

And I reached down and touched myself. Pleasure. Desire.

“You will desire that which needs no desire,” it told me from inside the dream. And I believed it, for a moment, before I decided that it was full of shit. And I moved on an went away and went away and went away. I’m done and tired. I curled up on the ground and puked on myself.

************

The next day, and the next, and the next – they are all the same. I did it and I don’t know who I am. I don’t know who I am supposed to be. Where am I? Why am I? Where is it and why am i waking up to the same terror every day?

I claw at the skin and pull on it as I look on in the mirror. Why? Where am I? What the fuck has happened to me? Where is the magi?

****************

I awake again to formlessness. My skin comes alive and the sensations from it tell me fantastic tales that I refuse to believe.

“Fuck you,” I whisper to myself and pull myself up off the floor, looking for him, the demon, begging him to spare me. He doesn’t show. He never fucking shows. My skin, it’s different again. Fuck.

“Where am I? Why does this keep happening to me?” I screamed at the top of my lungs, breaking my voice into a million pieces that fall on the floor in front of me. I bend over and try to pick them up, only to watch them fall between my fingers.

Another day, I think, and my day melds into one and I see the world circle above me as I lie on the floor, motionless and one day closer to death.

I find a piece of glass to use as a mirror. I’m tired and old. I’m ready to die now. Please stop using me. I scratch the mirror fragment over my wrist and fall over, crying.

**************

“Hey, mister, what’s wrong?”

It’s bad. Real bad. Bad when a bum looks at you and thinks you’re in a bad spot.

“Fuck me, not again.” The bum fades into echoes and I reach out into nothingness.

I wonder what I’ve done this time. What I’ve done to my fellow man. What I’ve done. What have I done?

***************

Author’s Notes

My son had a cool idea that you could shed your skin. A machine would do it and you would look different.

Cool. What if you did it and something nefarious happened? Like it got into you. Or they give you anti-rejection drugs, but they weren’t just that, they were mind control drugs. They used you to commit crimes for their benefit, you were their slave, and you had no memory, and in the morning, you’d molt into new skin.

In our story, our hero couldn’t deal with it. He’s being used. He’s fighting it. As much as he can. And that’s not so much, it seems, and he’s ready to give in. Please. To make it stop. Make it stop. Stop.

***********