Flash Fiction: Merry Christmas, Bob


Everything about Daniel Jones bore witness of the ironclad control he exerted over every aspect of his life. He wore polished black dress shoes, dress pants, a shirt, a vest, and even a coat of matching colour. The only part of his attire that was not black were some of the details on his coat. Well, with the exception of a crimson tie, in light of the season, and a pocket watch attached to a silver chain. The gloves he wore, thin smooth leather, would probably not have been very functional if the temperature dropped much further below freezing. This kind of disregard for the weather was one of the only elements in Daniel’s life that closely resembled chaos.

Daniel had the kind of stoic expression that kept strangers at a safe distance. In the rare cases where it didn’t, a subtle irritated eyebrow would change that stoic indifference to cold hostility. His sister often joked that he could stare down anyone, even a grizzly bear if he was ever given the chance. However, Daniel knew with certainty that such was not the case. There were at least two people he knew that seemed unaffected by his gaze, his five-year-old niece, Mathilda and Bob from work.

Out of the two, his niece was currently occupying his thoughts, which was also why the rare occurrence of a smile graced his face. He had stopped outside a toy store on his way home from work. Scratching a well-trimmed chin, he tried to figure out what would make a good Christmas present for a little girl. He knew very little about what children liked, he would even admit to knowing almost nothing at all about children. Toy guns, dolls, and games all seemed varying degrees of pointless. Observing a set of Lego in one of the corners he contemplated it for a moment. It seemed like a good idea, ideally fostering creativity and intelligence. It also seemed like a relatively genderless gift.

Just as he made up his mind and whisked out a notebook from his inner coat pocket to write it down someone called his name from behind him somewhere. Annoyed he looked up and was not surprised to see Bob approaching.

“Fancy seeing you here!” Bob called out to him. “I didn’t know you had kids?” Bob added once he arrived at the store window.

“I don’t,” Daniel replied and returned his stare to the toys. He furrowed his brows, what was it that he’d been about to write? Ah, he thought to himself as it returned to him. The Lego.

“Oh, gotta love the season anyway, right?” Bob laughed nervously.

“If there is something you want, Bob, you can send me an email later and we can discuss it at an appropriate time. Right now I’m busy.”

That earned him a moment’s worth of silence, just enough time to write down the name of the Lego set, how much it would cost and a reminder to compare it with online retailers.

“Are you headed home?” Bob ventured eventually.

“Why do you ask?” Daniel returned, eyes narrowing.

“Great! Why don’t we go for a bite to eat?” Bob exclaimed, regaining his annoying exuberance, and put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder as if to pull him along. “See, I could really need your help with something.”

Seeing their reflection in the window something snapped within Daniel’s mind. He closed his notebook and put it back into his coat pocket with slow and deliberate care. Then he stretched his hands, felt the fabric of his gloves strain under the force of the motion. Curling his right hand into a fist, he grabbed Bob’s collar with his left hand and heaved the man into the window. The force of the first punch sent a tremor along the length of his arm that made him shudder. Unable to contain himself, Daniel threw punch after punch at the cowering Bob, working his arms like a pair of sledgehammers.

When Daniel finally came to, his hands throbbed and a dull ache had settled into his bones. Blood smeared his gloves and stained his face. He was laughing, he realised, and concluded he’d finally gone mad. In spite of his newly acquired madness, however, he felt lighter than he had in many years. The weight of a decade’s worth of stress and forced overtime had somehow been lifted off of his chest.

Looking down on the unconscious mess and red-stained snow, he spat and panted, “Merry Christmas, Bob.”

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Grey Morning

Quiet, uneventful, and Grey. Serene, almost. Waiting… or rather an hour of autumn stillness. It is cold. I’ve missed this.

Welcome back, Old Friend.

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Flash fiction: Nocturnal

In a coastal town in southern Scandinavia, Daniel roamed its streets as he had gotten into the habit of doing when he could not sleep. The sky above had kept its promise of rain, like it so often did. Daniel braved a faint smile, it was that promise that had brought him there. For as long as he could remember, the feeling of raindrops on his face and the muted roar that accompanied it had been his only solace.

Between concrete buildings, cobbled sidewalks, and the steady crashing of the sea against the pier down at the harbour, his nocturnal promenade did not exactly heal the ache that kept him awake. Rather, it lulled him into the pensive melancholy he’d come to accept as his new normal.

Daniel was by no means sad, nor did he consider himself depressed. What his psychiatrist had to say on the matter was of no consequence. During his promenades he had found a way to cope, he had made peace with his afflictions. In acceptance, he had found sanctuary.

Besides, what else was a man to do when the sky always reflected his soul?

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She had heard tales of these strange, short-lived creatures,
that looked so much like her own kind.
Eerily similar, indeed, aside from odd-looking ears,
and melancholy eyes.
Peaceful, the creature before her,
soundly asleep ~
Curiosity won her over, she had to sneak a peek.
Attuned, aided by the Great Spirit,
a glance into its mind.
Jolt, coursing through her,
pain ~
In its mind she saw, its species’ history,
etched like memory, into its cells.
Violence, metal, sword and arrows,
disease, plague and mass extinction.
War, machines, bullets and bombs,
things she had never known before ~
cruelty, savagery, and ruthless ambition…

Horrified she pulled back her hand,
but not before it was too late.
In the creature’s mind,
she had gleaned ~
what it was to be human.

A curse, she then knew existed,
stronger than any spell ever woven,
by Elven hands,
Mankind’s inhumanity ~
toward man.

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The Ghost Named Stagnation

An old ghost had returned to him, he could not see it but he knew it was there. He could feel it following, observe his every move and thought. Once he might have found it frightening, but the time for fear had come and gone long ago.

In spite of his lack of fear, he found the presence no less haunting. if this particular ghost had a name, it would have to be Stagnation. It twisted and perverted serenity, sowed frustration and let it fester.

He found himself at a loss for what to do. Nothing he did seemed to be able to cleanse his existence of it. What was even worse was that it had begun to to stir his demons – and there was no telling what could happen once they woke up.

Thus he lay in bed, unable to sleep, plagued by the stale breath of this particular ghost. Twisting and turning, he searched for a position that did not frustrate him.

Eventually, though, his body broke the deadlock and sleep came to him. The ghost did not seem too bothered by this, content to continue observing as it always had. It noted, with some degree of curiosity, the counteracting effects of an open window and the cold air it brought in.

With an ethereal breath, and a spectral touch, it closed the window soundlessly. Then returned, to watching him sleep.

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Sleeping Space Beauty

About: This time I was prompted to write an interpretation of a classic fairytale. Word limit was 500 words, no other particular restrictions. My choice was Sleeping Beauty, since I felt I could tie it in nicely with a set of sci-fi shorts I’ve been working on.

The distress signal had been almost undetectable with all the static interfering with the comms, which no doubt had to do with the relatively close proximity of a nearby black hole. In spite of risking significant time debt, it had taken Locke Pavel very little effort in convincing the rest of the crew to investigate. After all, there was no telling what kind of profit a hundred-year-old derelict ship would yield, especially a military grade vessel. As he drifted toward the object of their greed, Locke’s gaze was involuntarily drawn to the dying star far off in the void as it was being devoured by the black hole. It was almost as if the star and hole were frozen in time, a still inferno lighting up the dying solar system. August’s static-mingled voice over the comm snapped him out of the enthrallment.

With gentle bursts from the thrusters attached to his suit, Locke traversed the remaining distance and found himself facing an open airlock. He took a steeling breath to calm his nerves, but not even knowing what he might face did much to diminish the gruesome reality of the vessel’s past. Frozen bodies hung suspended in the dead stillness of zero gravity, along with bodily fluids from ruptured lungs. A moment of silence followed his report. Locke did not linger long, but set about performing his task. Trying the main console proved futile, which was disappointing if not surprising. The vessel would have had to be out of both power and fuel by now. Sooner or later it would end up being pulled into the black hole, unless they towed it away.

It did not take long for Locke to find the armoury. Thankfully, ship design had changed little aboard military vessels in the last century. He made another attempt to report back but heard only white noise and interference. In spite of the tension lock felt straining on his sanity, he smiled, at least the excursion had been profitable. Staying still, however, was too much for him with only a static-muffled comm for company.

His smile broadened after inspecting the engine room, but his heart-rate did not go down. FTL Drive aside, he still had one more room to investigate. There were other dangers than gravity-monsters outside of Federation space.

When he entered the final room, August’s voice returned as the comm cleared up. After a quick inspection of the chamber Locke breathed a sigh of relief. His heart slowed down, until he noticed a blinking green light. Out of twenty pods all but one had powered down. Pushing his way over to the active pod, his eyes opened wide.

“All clear,” he announced over the comm. “Send over the docking tube, and bring the back-up generator. We’ll need to pressurise the ship and restore the oxygen. Over.”

“Excellent news, Pavel,” came the captains voice. “I take it she’s fully operational then? Over.”

“Yes,” he replied. “What’s more… cytogenetic chamber… woman in fugue. We’ve got a survivor. Over.”

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100 words: Execution

About: This is a response to a challenge issued to me. Write a 100-word story consisting of only monosyllabic words. There’s only once catch – each word can only be used once. Repetitions not allowed. I found it surprisingly frustrating! Certainly had me scratching my head! You guys should give it a shot too. : )

You took her from me. So I’ll take my due – cut and carve, until no more is left. Bones will break, hearts must weep, pain the toll paid by those we reap. Fear us, Filth, love’s ghost and I. On our souls, an oath to keep, you must die. Thine heart burns with zeal, but that kind of faith… a curse. It’ll aid this blade, slake its thirst… for blood.

Lo, snakes now coil ’bout your soul. Their name, fear. Noose tight ’round weak neck… squirm, moan, cry. Bleed, feel each drop leave as time has come…

Death tolls.

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