Tag Archives: Flash

Housework

I wrote this for a competition which gave a choice of opening lines (the same competition as for this, and the same opening line – I obviously didn’t like the other options).   It was for Halloween, but doesn’t really have any connection to pumpkins etc., which is possibly why it didn’t win.

 

Housework

“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”

Yeah, thanks Dad for yet another piece of disturbing and ultimately useless advice.  If only he’d taken less acid when he was younger.  If only he was still here.

“Sorry, what?”

“I said, goodbye dear, and have a good day.”  His wife had a bemused frown on her face.

“Sorry, love, you too.  Knock ‘em dead!”

“Of course, and don’t forget, we’re having the Renquists to dinner tonight.”

Damn, he had forgotten.

“All planned, don’t you worry, I know exactly what I’m cooking.”

She smiled, perhaps a little uncertainly, and then after glancing at her watch rushed out with a passing air kiss.

This was his first day of being an official house husband.  His gardening leave was over, not that the garden had seen any of it, and his wife was back at work.  He’d looked for another job, but there just wasn’t anything for someone of his age, and qualifications, or lack thereof.  The world had changed, tablets, virtual spaces and social presence rooms were all the rage, and he didn’t have a clue what they meant any more.

He shook himself, and decided to take the day by the horns.  First step, shopping.  Laura had shown him what to do.  She’d learnt all the new ways, and when it came to finding a job she’d been beating them off with a stick.  Not that he minded really.  He was all for feminism really.  Anyway, shopping.  It was easy, he just needed to get the tablet thingy, click on the Isquibo icon and click go.  Then apparently it would all arrive.

There was no Isquibo icon.  Or anything else that made any sense.  He tapped a few things randomly before giving up.  This was just like work, why was nothing named properly anymore?  He’d go out to the local supermarket later, they were still around he thought.

The cleanerbot wandered into the room.  Made a sort of hello beep and then started vacuuming, or mopping or whatever.  He wondered where its brain was.  He wondered where his had gone.  Trusting the machines was easy for everyone else, they’d not woken up to the new world with a hangover and a fear of rounded icons.  Or any icons.

Right, he should load the dishwasher.  Except, the dishes were gone.  The cleanerbot had already taken them.  He couldn’t help himself, the anger began to build.  How he hated it.  This horrid square box which was making him feel ever more useless.  He walked into the living room.

It was spotless.  There was really nothing for him to do.  He wondered what his dad would say.  He decided to go for a walk.  As he left the house he could vaguely recall Laura mentioning something about an alarm, but he figured he wouldn’t be gone long.

The trees were lovely in the autumn, and he spent a restful half hour sitting on a bench watching the world go by in the park.

When he got home all was much as he had left it.  He checked in to see that the kitchen was now clean.  Suddenly there was a loud beep behind him, it was the cleanerbot.

“Go away, stupid thing!”

It followed him into the lounge, and beeped at him again.  He had no idea what it wanted.  Laura had told him how to check, but it had all seemed so easy, and yet now the concepts had slipped from his mind, like all these technical things did.

There was another, more angry sounding, beep, and the cleanerbot advanced on him again.  This was getting a bit worrying.  Hadn’t she said there was some kind of pass phrase?

“Shut down!”

It continued to advance, and he backed away, tripping over the table and falling over.  In the process he managed to knock over a vase which smashed.  Maybe the cleanerbot would sort that out and stop bothering him.

The bot stopped still.  Its front bot opened up and an arm extended, and he relaxed.  This was obviously the vacuum.  He started to get up when something jabbed into his side and all his muscles spasmed.  He fell to the ground, and darkness took him.

His wife arrived back that evening, tired, but excited by her day.

“Darling!  Darling?”

She looked around.  The house was absolutely spotless, not a mark or stain to show that anyone was there.

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Flock

Another piece of flash fiction, entered for a competition for darker stories at Darker Times.

It didn’t win, and if I’m honest I wasn’t totally happy with it.  Sometimes the word limit helps, and sometimes it doesn’t, I think this is one where it didn’t.

 

Flock

The rain lashed down, soaking me in the darkness.  I didn’t want to be out here, but the flock hadn’t come in for their feed.  That meant they’d gotten out again.

Fortunately I found the hole in the fence quickly.  Unfortunately it was into the forest.  I’d rushed out without a jacket, and now I was paying the price.  Even better, my torch was running low.  No wait, now it was out.  So now I was in a dark forest, at night, in driving rain, looking for creatures whose colouring ranged from brown to black.  Could it get any worse?

“Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.”

The sound chilled my blood.  It was off to my right.  I called out, “Hazel… Catkin…”  The two leaders of the flock would normally come to me, though I’d always felt their names somewhat mis-sold them.  Hazel could be a real monster when she wanted to be, and Catkin was worse if anything.

“Maaaaaaaa.”

Off to my right again, then answered from the left.  If I hadn’t known better I’d have thought they were stalking me.  Then what sounded like a cry, followed by several more angry bleats.  I ran towards the sound.  I heard screaming.  The flock had found someone, and were stalking them.  I had to do something before it got out of hand.  I tried to go faster, but I was no longer on the path and the branches kept whipping my face.

The scream sounded again, and I leapt forward in a panic.  I found myself on my back, seeing stars and with blinding pain across my forehead.  I must’ve hit a branch.  The screaming had stopped and I could hear snuffling.  The rain seemed to be easing off.

Had whoever screamed been able to get away?  There were a few fences around the wood which the flock wouldn’t be able to get over.  Perhaps they’d made it?  I got up and headed towards the sounds.  I kept telling myself that whoever it was must have got away.

The moon had broken through the clouds, and I could see a clearing ahead.  Dark figures seemed to be clustered near the centre of the clearing, and they were making a lot of snuffling sounds.  I walked towards them, knowing that as they were pheromone bonded to me they’d just assume I was part of the flock.  I gingerly looked over at what they were gathered around.  It was the fresh corpse of a small Scottie dog.  I gagged a little but was relieved, it could have been much worse..

Then I heard more snuffling at the edge of the clearing.  The rest of the flock were there, gathered round a much bigger form.  Peering closely I made out a woman’s shape in the moonlight.  I gagged.  She was obviously beyond help.  I slumped to the floor, dazed and not knowing what I would do.  I couldn’t help railing at the madness of genetically engineering a cross between Soay sheep and wolves.

 

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A Friend in Need

I wrote this as an entry for a competition where the theme was ‘A Friend in Need’.  It was a bit of fun really, and I enjoyed writing it, even if it didn’t catch the judges’ eyes.

A Friend in Need

By Jason Gibbs

Paul sat fidgeting at the table, wondering when the waiter would come.  Laura looked at him and mentally shook her head.  He’d be great if he’d just sort himself out.

“Do you love me?”

Paul froze, caught in the headlights of the question.  The problem was that he did love Laura, or at least thought he did.  It was just that she was, well, demanding.

“Yes! Of course!”  Squeaking out the yes didn’t help.

“Oh Paul.  I love you too, but when are you going to get serious?  How is the job going?”

“Ah well.”

“You were fired… you quit?”

“No, actually.”  He looked a bit abashed, “They promoted me, and asked me to become a permie.”

Laura was shocked.  Maybe he was finally growing up, she was worried he’d stay a man child for ever.

“That’s great Paul!  We should have something to celebrate!”

Paul kind of thought coming out to a nice French restaurant counted as celebrating, but given the smile on Laura’s face he didn’t want to disappoint her.  As she waved the waiter over his phone buzzed.  It was Terry, but he didn’t have time to read the message before Laura turned back.  She’d been very clear with him that he wasn’t to check his texts, or answer anything other than an emergency, while he was sitting with her.  Or she’d storm out.  Again.

The waiter came over and Laura ordered some Moet, which he hated.  Perhaps there was something he could teach her for a change.  He stopped the waiter, and said, “Actually, do you have any Veuve Cliquot?”  The waiter nodded his reply and went off to get some.

Laura was impressed, she didn’t realise Paul knew anything about Champagne, or indeed anything that wasn’t in the Urban Dictionary.

Paul’s phoned buzzed again.  He managed not to make any sign.  Laura was looking particularly beautiful tonight, and he thought he might have properly impressed her for a change.  He didn’t reveal he’d learnt about Champagne during a summer serving at weddings.

When they’d first started going out she’d seemed quite happy with his jokes, and she never seemed bothered when he went out with his mates.  He’d spent time with her friends, who all seemed nice enough.  He’d even tried to set up Carol with Terry.  That had been a disaster though, and it felt like that had been the turning point.  From then on Laura had been pushing him, get a proper job, don’t drink so much, had he ever seen a gym, on and on.  The problem was, he did really want to be with her, he just wasn’t ready for all this responsibility.  The money from the job helped though.

After the starter she went to the toilet.  He’d had a dozen texts by this point, and he now read them.  They were all from Terry.  The first one was just ‘Help!’, they got worse and worse from there.  He was in big trouble, real trouble and he needed Paul.  Desperately.  Paul was certain it was to do with those gangsters Terry had been doing a deal with.  Clearly it had gone bad.  Damn.  How was he going to explain this to Laura?

He tried.  Her mouth slipped from a luminescent smile to a frown before ending flat and angry.

How could he?  She just didn’t understand him.  She’d tried to tell him that Terry was bad news, so many times.  This was it.

“Paul, if you leave now, then we’re over.  Don’t ever bother me again.”

He had no choice.  He left eighty quid on the table, grabbed his jacket and headed out without another word.  After all, what could he say?  He wasn’t going to abandon his mates.

He jumped into his motor and sped home, hoping he’d be in time.  Terry called, and his car automatically answered.

“Paul!”

“Mate, I’m on my way.”

There was a grunt of relief.

“I thought you were leaving me hanging!  Look, I can hold them off for a few more minutes but..”

There was the sound of gunshots.

“Where the hell are you?”

“Back of the warehouses, behind the Fedex office.”

Paul screeched up to his house.

“I’ll get tooled up and be right there.”

“Hurry!”

Paul ran into the house, and dived into the games room.  He jumped into his control chair, with the keyboard on one side and the controller on the other, and hit un-pause.  The speakers squawked, and the logo of East End Wars came up on the screen, along with a Ray Winstone quote he no longer noticed.  His character already had a load of weapons ready, he just needed to dump them in the Jag and get going.  He had to hurry, his friend was in real need.

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