Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Devil's Game - #FridayFlash

The place was crowded, the lights dim. Old world elegance oozed from the inside of the bar, not at all what Cate expected from its non-descript exterior. She wondered if she had the right place. This didn’t seem like her friend’s style.

Her entrance went unnoticed, something she wasn’t use to. All eyes focused on the billiard game happening in the middle of the floor. Cate didn’t know much about pool, but the charming man with the easy grin must be winning. The others looked worried.

Cate studied the man in the expensive silk suit. She found herself unable to look away. He glanced at her—spoke a word of welcome. His voice was smooth whiskey tumbled over shards of ice. The ribbon of smoke from the cigar he held enticed her to follow its trail to his side.

He completed his shot as she reached him, three balls in the corner pocket. His opponent was visibly sweating as he watched the table.

“Hold this for me.”

He handed Cate his cigar with a smile. Its heady aroma wrapped Cate in its spell. She took a drag without knowing why.

“I’m Lucian,” he said and hit the final ball in the pocket.

The ground opened below his opponent, fiery souls billowed forth and consumed the man where he stood. Cate backed away but the crowd closed in around her, rapacity written on their faces. Her head spun from the cigar smoke.

“Are you ready to play, Cate?”

Lucian’s voice caressed her, locked her in place. She looked back at the door where she’d entered just moments ago. It had disappeared.

“If I win, will you let me leave?” Her voice sounded thick to her ears.

“No.” Lucian’s grin took on a wicked cast. “But I’ll buy you a drink if you do. I have to tell you though, I’ve never lost.”

©2009 Laura Eno

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Great American Teach-In

I had the honor of speaking at an elementary school today for the Great American Teach-In on what it’s like to be a writer. The two half-hour sessions, one for a third grade class and one for fifth grade, taught me as much as the information I imparted.

I focused on perseverance, because it’s necessary no matter what they choose to do in life. My motto was, embrace it even when it sucks because that’s the only way to learn. They enjoyed my use of the word ‘suck.’ I found out later that the teachers are trying to ban it from their vocabulary. Oops – go Laura!

We also worked with a story prompt. It had a monster in it, naturally. The kids had a good time with it. I tapped into a rich imaginative vein with the fifth graders. Not so much with the third graders. I would have thought it to be the other way around. Here is the story prompt. What would your next sentence be?

A little girl in a red sweater and a monster walked down the dirt road. The monster started to sneeze but he didn’t have a tissue.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Bus Stops Here - #FridayFlash

This is a minor character from my NaNoWriMo WIP.

The last of the group made their way up the three steps and onto the bus. Thomas shut the door and studied the happy faces behind him from the rearview mirror. Like kids on a field trip. He hoped he could still summon that kind of excitement at their age. The youngest of the lot was 75.

The Sun and Fun Retirement Home had chartered this trip up the mountain for a day at the casino on the reservation. Thomas would earn time and a half as their driver. Maybe a few tips as well. He really needed the money but, after a restless night with little sleep, he didn’t feel well. In fact, the pleasant greetings from his passengers annoyed him. Nothing was fine about today, as one old woman had remarked. Nothing was fine about his life, when it came right down to it.

The gears ground as Thomas shoved the old bus into first, pulling away from the curb with a slight sway and shudder. As they made their way up the hill, he tuned out the excited chatter, turned his thoughts to Jenny instead.

The bitch didn’t deserve both house and alimony – she was the one who left. Normally, he didn’t spend time dwelling on the inequities, but for the last few days he couldn’t seem to think of anything else.

The dark mood started right after the accident in the store, when he got the stitches. Thomas brushed his fingertips against the bandage gingerly, although it didn’t hurt. He still had a headache; nothing seemed to touch it, not even the pills the doc prescribed for him. He hadn’t told his employer either, since the bottle said “do not drive.”

None of that had anything to do with his present state of mind. On any given day, Thomas could stuff his depression into a dark corner, ignore it and move on. Not so for the last four days, when an unfocused revenge dogged his every step.

As the bus wound around the last steep curve to reach the top, clarity breached Thomas’ thoughts. He knew what he had to do. The bitch wouldn’t get any more alimony out of him.

Laughter gave way to stunned silence in those first few moments. The bus jerked hard to the right. The tires left the pavement. Then the screaming started.

Thomas watched the view change from clouds to rocks as the bus nosedived on its way to a flip. His mad grin widened. He thought about the time he executed a belly flop in much the same way. It had been painful, too. Then his head hit the wheel. Thomas missed the rest of the action.

The bus didn’t make it all the way to the bottom. It landed on the road some 1500 feet below the top. No one lived to give thanks for that small mercy. The resultant explosion took care of that.

©2009 Laura Eno

Timing is Everything: Flashes in the Dark

I have a story up at Flashes in the Dark called Timing is Everything.
Many thanks to Lori Titus over at FitD for featuring it.
I hope you'll stop over there and give it a read. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Five O'Clock Tram - #FridayFlash

“Sally, I told you to quit fussing with your sweater.”

“But the sleeves aren’t long enough.” Sally tugged at the bright red knit one more time in a futile attempt to stretch it. Her mother ignored her complaints and hustled her out of the car. The huge parking lot was filling up fast for opening day of the new amusement park.

The “Gateway to Other Worlds” promised live exhibits of creatures from other planets. Since that was impossible, speculation was rife about what they could have planned. The concepts had been kept under tight security so no one knew what to expect. One of the planners was a famous comic book author so rumor had it that he designed animatronics for the exhibits.

Seven-year-old Sally forgot her quarrel with her sweater as she was awed by one exhibit after another. They watched tiny Gorn at play, their purple fuzz dusted by mint green snowflakes that fell inside the protective dome. Another had giant butterfly creatures that came up to the window, looking like they wanted to speak.

Multiple domes portrayed life on a dozen different planets, their habitats authentically reproduced according to the guides.

At the end of the long day, Sally and her mother boarded the tram that ran through a series of tunnels, showing visitors the domes from the backside. It stopped in one dark tunnel and the voice system came on.

“Please exit to your right for the tram to the parking lot. We hope you’ve enjoyed your stay with us.”

A boy and his father stood in front of a dome, watching creatures that looked a bit like woolly mammoths. Their guide pointed to his watch and announced that it was five o’clock, the creatures feeding time. On cue, a chute opened, spilling several people to the ground. The boy watched a girl in a red sweater try to run before the mammoth bit her in half. Now her legs matched the color of her sweater.

“Those animatronics sure are realistic looking,” his father murmured.

The guide smiled at them. “Aren’t they just?”

©2009 Laura Eno