So this weekend had the odd moment to grab sometime to write flash for the virtual competitions that linger out there (wherever out there is). Was incredibly pleased/shocked/stunned etc to find my 500 word short entered into Luminous Creatures Press‘ Summer of Short Stories taking first place.
The prompt this week was this rather satisfied creature:
The photo prompt at first left me staring at a blank screen, a lack of inspiration when I then perused Karl A Russell’s entry (that you should read along with the other entrants, one story in particular features your erstwhile scribe as a dog!).
Thankfully however the block faded away and I found myself in a Terry Gilliam-esqe realm of bureaucracy, waiting rooms and the everyman. Shades of Gilliam’s wonderful Brazil and 12 Monkeys just kept popping into my mind as I wrote.
Anyway hope you enjoy
“Number 11232242, please go to desk 48.”
Felix lifted himself up from the plastic orange chair that had adhered itself to his skin. Legs complaining, he set off across the vast room, past rows of bright orange chairs, each occupied by a resident clutching a numbered ticket. Envious glances marked his progress across the hall. Felix didn’t care, he was just glad that his number had finally been called.
Behind the polished glass of the cubicle was an attractive young woman. Felix felt his heart sink as his nemesis stirred in his trousers. They were always attractive and young, no matter his self-delusion he knew they saw him only as the balding overweight middle-aged man he knew he was. Her attention was focused on a computer as he approached, Felix went to cough politely but a raised manicured finger halted him mid intake.
Her fingers danced over the keyboard, she was blonde. Why always blonde?
Fucking hell he felt so horny.
“Ah, somewhere and please, call me Felix …”
The look back, a marvelous combination of disdain and boredom stopped him midsentence.
“In the chute …”
Another malevolent glare, a finger pointing to the brass tube beside the glass.
“Take a tube, put your documents inside.”
Felix clumsily stuffed his documents into the small canister, then watched it disappear up into the ceiling.
Moments later and with an elegant whoosh it dropped onto the desk in front of the girl.
“So …” She perused his documents, “ hmm, you’ve requested a return.”
“Yes, well when the gentleman at arrivals had explained my options, to be honest a return seemed a great deal.”
“Tall, beard … very helpful … handing out brochures.”
Another raised finger; Felix dutifully fell silent as she picked up her phone. Her voice cheerfully melodic as the other person answered.
‘Hi, this is Claire from processing. Sorry seems Peter’s at it again … I know its just we’ll never hit our quotas if he … excellent okay, yeah and you.’
She put the phone down, her warmth fading immediately.
“Well if it was me you’d be getting the standard eternal darkness package, yet seems my hands are tied, so what were you after?”
“Well I was hoping for something a bit more athletic, sporty, I mean it’d be great if I was into running maybe?”
“”Sporty … well lets see, ah yes seems I have something suitable” her eyes lit up at the information on her computer screen, “if you could just place your hand firmly within the square etched on the glass.
Felix lifted his hand. The glass was cold.
“Will this hurt?”
She hit a button.
Felix was running across a field, tongue lolling, heart racing, four legs sprinting in unison. He sped through the thick grass that brushed against his fur, a perfect blue sky above him.
A young blonde woman waiting for him, leash in hand.
Maybe this was going to work out after all.
Image Ronin’s masterful humor is on display in “Return Ticket,” the story of a man who chooses reincarnation with lovely results. I love the carefully drawn details in this story: the plastic orange chair that sticks to skin and that raised manicured finger of the woman deciding his fate. Such well-placed details draw the reader further into the story just like a cinematic close-up—a perfect technique for flash fiction. Felix makes a great end, returning to life as dog. I’d choose the same thing.