homeless

Laughing Shadows

Flash fiction inspired by the murder of two homeless men in New Mexico:

It was funny when they screamed.

They were sleeping beneath the stars in a vacant lot behind the railroad tracks and were completely unaware of the three shadows that stood above them. And that was the funniest part. Here they were, peaceful and dreaming and sleeping, and a second later they were screaming, and bleeding and crying.

“Hit him,” he laughed. “Kick that son of a bitch.”

The three shadows descended onto their victims in wild fits of laughter and violence. A foot crushed two ribs. An eye was swollen shut. A fist knocked three teeth out of one man’s mouth and the shadows doubled over and gasped for breath.

“Listen to him,” they laughed. “This little bitch is crying like a baby.”

Two men laid lifeless when it was all over while another fled across the pavement, his clothes torn and his face battered, as the haunting laughter of the shadows chased after him.

“Run,” they giggled. “Coward,” they laughed. “Worthless scum.”

They shadows walked arm in arm down the alleyway laughing at the jokes that laid still in the moonlight.

***

Flash fiction inspired by the murder of two homeless men in New Mexico: Three New Mexico teenagers accused of beating to death two men who were sleeping in a vacant lot giggled as they delivered their blows, a survivor of the vicious attack told NBC News on Monday.

photo credit: magnetomotive via photopin cc

bullets

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Flash fiction inspired by another deadly weekend in Chicago:

“I don’t like this place.” The little girl held on to her mother’s skirt and followed her around the kitchen. There was a loud pop outside and the girl wrapped her arms tightly around her mother’s legs.

“I don’t like this place,” she said again. “Can we move mommy?”

The woman ran her fingers through the girl’s hair and looked at the dirty window that sat above the couch. A tan curtain was shifting in the wind and the woman waited for another noise.

“It’s nothing,” the mother said. “Just some fireworks. Don’t you worry.”

“It wasn’t a gun?” the girl asked.

The woman looked down at the soft and innocent eyes of her baby girl. She ran her thumb along the side of her cheek and did her best to speak over the sound of her breaking heart.

“No, honey,” she said. “It wasn’t a gun. You’re safe.”

The weekend prior three people had died on their block. Another 10 were killed around the city. All gang related. All thoughtless bullets.

The neighborhood had always been rough but when the girl was younger she could walk by the violence wearing a blindfold. She could explain away the loud noises at night and the yellow police tape that littered the streets. She could protect the girl, and her gentle mind, from the violence in the city.

But now, at the age of 7, there were no more fairy tales.

The girl witnessed her first murder on the corner of California and Harrison when she was five-years-old. She didn’t see the shooting, but she saw the blood that dripped from the curb as they made their way home from school.

“Mommy,” she had asked. “Is that man dead?”

They drove home in silence as the little girl connected the dots between the blood, death, guns, and the loud explosions that kept her awake at night.

“Mommy,” the girl said pulling at her mother’s dress. “Can we move? Please? I don’t like this place.”

Every time the girl asked her mother would make a promise that she wanted to, but couldn’t, keep.

“Soon,” the mother said. “A few things have to happen first but then we’ll move to a nice neighborhood.”

Over and over again the girl asked and the mother answered: Soon.

The woman sat on a clean wooden floor surrounded by cardboard boxes. There was music on the radio and a cool summer breeze wafted in through an open window at the front of the apartment.

She held a framed picture of her daughter and listened as the laughter from a group of neighborhood kids rose from the well lit streets and into her new home. The crack of a baseball bat rang through her open window and she held the photo tightly against her chest, apologizing that she didn’t move sooner, and hoping that her daughter had found a better place.

***

Flash fiction inspired by another deadly weekend in Chicago: An 11-year-girl was shot and killed during a slumber party as violence struck Chicago over the weekend, local media outlets reported on Sunday.

photo credit: Tigresblanco via photopin cc

boeing 777

Out Of Thin Air

Flash fiction inspired by Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17

“Nervous?” he asked. “I used to get nervous on these flights too. Big plane. Hundreds of people. The slightest turbulence felt like imminent doom. But I figured something out. These guys know what they’re doing. They train very hard for it. There’s really no safer place to be.”

The plane shook, dipping into an air pocket, and she felt queasy as the momentary weightlessness lifted then dropped her stomach and lungs. She closed her eyes tightly, as tight as her hands were wrapped around the armrest, as tight as her teeth were clenched together, and found herself praying to a God she never talked to.

The stranger placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Hey,” he said. “Hey miss. Why don’t you talk to me. I bet you I can make you laugh. Let’s talk and not worry about this pesky flying business.”

She opened her eyes. The rest of her body remained tight but she opened her eyes and stiffly turned her neck so that she was facing her fellow passenger.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I normally take an ambien before I get on but I was late and I had to get to the gate and I didn’t have time to stop and now… I can feel my heart racing.”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” he said. “In addition to being a fantastic conversationalist, I’m also a doctor. And in addition to being a doctor I’m also a former nervous flier. You’re in good hands here. Trust me.”

She felt her body slowly start to relax. She loosened her grip around the arm rest, she unclenched her jaw, she took a deep breath and she felt her neck and chest and stomach and muscles soften and relax.

“Thank you,” she said. “For talking with me. I don’t know If I would have made it through the entire flight on my own.”

He smiled, slid back into his seat, then folded his hands in his lap.

“We’ll be there in no time,” he said. “Just sit back and rel…

***

Flash fiction inspired by Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17: In the rural area of eastern Ukraine where a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 fell from the sky on Thursday, the ground was scarred with death and devastation left behind by a flight that never reached its destination.

photo credit: michal818 via photopin cc

stripper

An Inspection

Flash fiction inspired by a Reuters story

“And this?” He put his hand on her shoulder, rubbing his thumb along the tail of a red tattoo that wrapped around her neck. “We’re going to need to see the rest.”

“What for?”

“Procedure.”

The creature’s tale wrapped around her neck while it’s body crawled over her shoulder then wrapped around and hugged the bottom of her breast. She told this to the officer but he insisted that a description just wouldn’t cut it.

“We need a photo,” he told her. “It’s for your safety.”

The officers always used the same excuses. Procedure and safety. The girls who protested were hit with a third excuse, “it’s just the way that things are done,” before the first threat “cooperate or I can make life difficult” was issued. It wasn’t a hollow threat, either. One girl had already been taken down to the station for processing and she knew that she’d be next if she asked another question.

She slipped the straps off of her shoulder then pulled her shirt down enough so that the tattoo was completely visible. She closed her eyes and waited for the clicking of the camera. When she opened them the officer was wiping a bit of drool from his lips.

“You’re a beautiful woman,” he said. “Any more tattoos?”

“No,” she said. “That’s it.”

He moved his tongue around the inside of his mouth then caught the eye of the photographer who must’ve been thinking the same thing.

“Yes, I think you’re right,” he said. “I think we need to get a picture of you completely naked. Why don’t you take the rest of these clothes off and they’ll we’ll get you on your way.”

“But…” she started to speak but the officer talked over her.

“You take your clothes off every night,” he said. “You’re going to get modest now? I’m a man of the law. Just doing my job. I’m here to keep you safe. Remember?”

The officer leaned back against the wall and waited for the girl to start undressing. Then he smiled and walked across the room to where a small radio was sitting on the table. He turned it on, turned the volume up, then turned back to the woman.

“There you go,” he said. “A little music for the show. Make you feel right at home.”

***

Flash fiction inspired by a Reuters story: Thirty strippers in the San Diego area filed a lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department on Wednesday, saying they were forced to be photographed while nude or nearly nude while officers claimed to be inspecting the clubs where they worked.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Yamal

End Of The World

Flash fiction inspired by a Nine MSN Story

“They don’t know what it is. They have theories and guesses and ideas but they don’t know what it is. All they know is that it’s big and scary and that it’s located at the end of the world.”

“It’s just a hole.”

“It’s more than a hole. It’s 250 feet wide. It’s inexplicable. It’s already caused evacuations and general hysteria.”

“It’s a scary hole.”

“You don’t understand. You see a something and you see what it is. Not what it represents. This may be just a hole but I’ll tell you this: It’s just the beginning.”

“Of what.”

“Of the end, of course. It’s the beginning of the end.”

“It is at the end of the world.”

“And that’s just where it starts.”

***

Flash fiction inspired by a Nine MSN Story: A mysterious giant hole spotted in northern Siberia has sparked an urgent expedition. Aerial images posted on YouTube indicate a hole up to 80m wide in Yamal, a peninsula jutting into Arctic waters whose name translates as “the end of the world”.

thor

Thor

Flash fiction inspired by a Marvel announcement

“Men are strong and women are soft. Men are warriors and women are caretakers. Men are hunters and women are gathers. These are simple truths. Simple truths.”

He paused, letting a worry creep across his brow, then added: “The next generation is doomed.”

Most of his heroes, the proper ones, had died long ago. The few that did survive had been mutated into something that was unrecognizable to his boyhood eyes.

“Like Thor,” he spit. “What a travesty. A generation of boys growing up with that she-devil swinging God’s hammer. That’s an idol? That’s a hero? It’s gone too far.”

The microwave sounded and he pulled out a plastic tray full of steam and meat and vegetables. He sat down at a table he had set up in front of the couch and turned on the television. The reporters were talking about a gay man who was gearing up for his first summer practice in the NFL.

He placed a carrot into his mouth, chewed it slowly, then let out a sigh that he had been holding in for years.

“These are simple truths,” he said to himself. “The next generation is doomed.”

***

Flash fiction inspired by a Marvel announcement: No longer is the classic Thunder God able to hold the mighty hammer, Mjölnir, and a brand new female hero will emerge worthy of the name THOR.

plastic water bottles

Supply

Flash fiction inspired by a Salon story

They had it but didn’t own it. They needed it but couldn’t pay for it. They wanted more of it but couldn’t get it. So they prayed for it and waited for it and when it came it was loaded up into trucks and taken away to gas stations on the other side of the country.

It was placed on store shelves with the label “fresh spring water” and it was sold for $2 a bottle. And it sold. It sold to people who had too much of it and wanted more of it. To people who had it in their sinks and showers and hoses but who didn’t have it in a little plastic bottle. So they bought it. They didn’t think or worry about it they just bought it. And when they ran out of it they bought more of it.

They bought so much of it that the lakes became puddles and the rivers became streams but it didn’t matter to them because they got theirs from a bottle at the store.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a Salon story: “As residents of California are urged to conserve water and the state considers placing a mandatory restriction on outdoor water usage, Nestlé is trucking away undisclosed amounts of the precious resource in the form of bottled water.”

photo credit: Brave Heart via photopin cc

lebron james

The King’s Return

Flash fiction inspired by an Sports Illustrated story

Thousands of tiny holes peppered the photo of the face that hung on the wall. A dart stuck out from man’s chin and another from his cheek. Someone had written “Loser” across his forehead and someone else had written “Traitor” over the word “Cleveland” on his chest.

He was looking at the photo now and shaking his head.

“Four years,” he thought. So much hate had been poured into that photo over the last four years.

He watched as many Miami games as he did Cleveland games during that span. The Heat were good, after all, and he liked rooting against the King. He rejoiced when they lost and when they won he knew it was because they had an unfair advantage.

“It isn’t how the sport is supposed to be played,” he thought. “It’s practically cheating.”

And he thought that for four years. He hated him for four years. He despised him and cursed him and threw darts at a photo of him that hung on his wall. And now, the King was returning home and he was going to bow and his kiss the two rings he had won in some other city.

He threw one last dart against the wall then smiled. The king was coming home.

***

Flash fiction inspired by an Sports Illustrated story: “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”

 

And The Worst Part About It Is…

Flash fiction inspired by a Think Progress story

And the worst thing is that they raped her. After they spiked her drink and after she passed out they stripped her down to nothing and raped her right there on the kitchen floor.

And the worst part about it is they took photos. After they raped her, each of them getting at least one turn, they pulled out a camera and took her photo. The first few were blurry because they were drunk and laughing but eventually they got it. A nice crisp photo of a young girl on the kitchen floor, bleeding, and sleeping, and dreaming of something evil that she couldn’t escape.

And the worst part about it is they shared those photos online. They bragged about it. They used hashtags and encouraged their friends to like and favorite and retweet so that everyone would know what they did.

They were proud and the worst part about it is that so were other people. “LOL,” someone wrote. “What a slut.” “What a bitch.” “What a whore.” And they shared the photos over and over and over again until everyone knew about what had happened.

Except for her. And that’s worst part about it. She woke up groggy, naked, hurt and confused but she didn’t know exactly what had happened to her. She had ideas, of course, but it wasn’t until she saw the photos… until she saw everyone laughing at her that she realized what had happened.

They stripped her down to nothing and then laughed at her. And the worst part about it is that they weren’t really laughing at her in particular. They were laughing at a victim. It could have been anyone and it will be someone else tomorrow and they will point and they will laugh again.

And that’s the worst part about it.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a Think Progress story: A 16-year-old girl from Texas says that photos of her unconscious body went viral online after she was drugged and raped at a party with her fellow high schoolers.

running of the bulls

Running From Bulls

Flash fiction inspired by a Chicago Tribune story

Rule #1: Run. The gate dropped and the bulls charged and the mozos squeezed down the narrow Spanish street.

Rule #2: Balance. Thousands of people and twice as many legs beat down the crooked pavement with panicked steps.

Rule #3: Patience. The crowd is loud and the bulls are quick and the air is full of fear. Concentrate. You don’t have to outrun the bulls. Just the person next you.

Rule #4: Trust. Confidence is key. Faith is essential. Believe that you will make it to the end and you will!

He put the pen down and laid back in bed. It was a long white bed, slightly reclined, that sat perpendicular to the wall. His foot was up in a cast. His face was swollen with a variety of colors. He scratched his pen against the notebook until all of the words above were illegible.

Then, he started again.

Rule #1: A rule will not keep you safe.

***

Flash fiction inspired by a Chicago Tribune story: A Chicago author who wrote a chapter of the book “How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona” was gored Wednesday during the Spanish bull running festival.

photo credit: Sanfermin Kukuxumusu via photopin cc