Category Archives: Flash fiction

#74 The Disappeared by Ross Baxter

It started with the daily commute. Day after painful day crawling along in the traffic on the 110 or I-5; each mile more soul-sapping than the last. Mike had thought about leaving Pasadena and moving closer to work, but given the hours he worked he had no time to even start looking. The hours that he did not spend at work seemed to be spent on the journey there or back. He became an expert on the buildings, roadside architecture and environment along his route. Any changes he instantly spotted, be it a new  billboard for Orchard Supply Hardware or a different set of shades in a house overlooking the route.

Mike first spotted the shuttered building whilst in stationary traffic in the evening rush hour. He had never seen the three-story structure before, probably because it was completely nondescript in every sense. There was nothing that made it stand out at all—no signs, no color, no interest. Nothing. It was like a stealth building, in plain sight but completely hidden at the same time, blending into its drab surroundings like a concrete chameleon. For that day on, Mike’s eyes were drawn to the enigmatic building every time he passed, and his curiosity grew. Continue Reading

#73 The Time We Did It Too Fast by Michael Lent

There is some precedent for what is happening right now. I mean, what better way to christen this new marriage? Our courtship consisted of quixotic drives during snowstorms in order to ski in the relative darkness during whiteout conditions at Greek Peak. And there is the time we went camping in a forest outside of Ithaca, New York in early October. The forecast was for heavy rain and we went anyway because it was our time and we were in love. The rain finally cut us a break after two days and one night. I built a fire under the stars and we huddled in a sleeping bag on the tarp-covered ground. Our succumbing to Cupid’s prickly embrace came to an abrupt halt at the sight of the magnificent Indian squatting across the fire. I don’t know which of us saw him first. He just appeared and we just froze. Continue Reading

#72 The Forest by Paul Parten

We never liked living close to big towns, my dad always said they made the air taste too closed in, ‘pre-used’ he’d call it.   But, dad always had to go where the jobs were, so moving to California was just another house in another town.

New friends, new school, new address.  Again. Continue Reading

#71 Treated Like Royalties by Margaret Finnegan

Dear Frank:

To follow up on my last three unreturned phone calls, I was told in the Spring that I would be receiving a royalty payment for approximately $550 for my novel Dreams of a Lunch Lady. I have not yet received my royalty payment. Please let me know when it will arrive.

Sincerely,

Constance Dorsey
3217 Craftsman Way
Pasadena, CA 91106

 

Dear Frank:

I still have not received that check. Please let me know why by filling out and returning the following questionnaire:

Staff Accountant Frank Fields is:
__ Dead
__ Dying
__ On vacation
__ Other (Please state, and please be as specific as possible:_________________.)

Sincerely,

Constance Dorsey
3217 Craftsman Way
Pasadena, CA 91106 Continue Reading

#70 The Toe by Windi Padia

I found it in the desert. I saw Fran driving her truck loaded down with dead branches, and then I saw her pitch the stuff off the side of a shallow arroyo. I was out for a walk before the heat had a chance to start baking the trail.

The toe was severed clean, like a surgeon had sliced it with a very sharp saw. It was the big toe, with a yellowed nail and a hairy toe knuckle. The bone was surrounded by meat that had dried to raw flesh, rough to the touch and darkened on the edges like jerky. It rested on the sand next to a tree limb with leaves already curling from the approaching heat.

I liked Fran. I did handyman work for her and her husband Oliver. She always told me I was too skinny. I’d be digging in the garden and she’d take my dirty hand in her frail, spider-webbed one, and tell me to stop and eat. Sometimes she would forget my name, but I never minded. She was in her eighties, after all.

An ant found the toe, and began chewing on the fresh end near the nail.

I took it to Tom, the local sheriff. I figured a severed toe was worth reporting. Continue Reading

#69 Mr. Machismo by Lynn Nicholas

Paige was barely breathing. She hovered over the drinking fountain, her head tilted just enough to follow Tony Moreno’s every movement in the mirrored ballroom. The staccato beat of Tony’s Cuban heels reverberated across the floorboards, his movements precise and powerful. No one could embody the passion of the Paso Doble like Tony. White shirt open, his elaborate gold cross gleamed against his competition-ready, spray-tanned chest. Chin high, teeth bared in a Matador’s snarl, he arched his back and swirled an imaginary cape, stopping mid-step to appraise his line in the mirror. Paige looked up, caught off guard by the sudden silence. With a wicked thrust of his pelvis, Tony winked directly into the reflection of her wide-eyed stare.

Her brain froze. She prayed to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, for quick-witted quip. Flustered, Paige began gulping back water like a drought survivor. Please God, just let him walk past me.

Tony picked up his sweat towel as he strode across the ballroom. Predatory white teeth gleaming, he admired Paige’s bent posture, which treated Tony to tight butt cheeks exposed under her dance shorts. Continue Reading

#68 The Hyrules of Heroism by A.M. Schultz

As his wide set, almondy eyes scanned the fresh aesthetics, Link breathed a much welcomed whiff of Pasadena’s clean air into his lungs. There was a cool, comforting, calming serenity about this Pasadena air – innocence, even – that was entirely devoid of the wretched, putrid pungeance of Gannon’s treachery. The evil pig had perished at the end of Link’s sword eons ago, but an eternal sensation loomed inside the abdomen of the young hero, leaving him fearful that the angst that had manifested in his soul would never subside.

Still, he hadn’t come this far to dwell upon the torments of his past. Travelling transdimensionally is an exhausting feat, even for a renowned hero, and though he had grown quickly nostalgic for the tranquil chaos of his homeland and his tireless quest to earn the love of a beautiful princess, Link was not about to squander this opportunity at a new life.

“Well, it’s definitely not Hyrule, by any means,” he thought out loud, with traces of optimism in his voice, “but at least I didn’t wind up in Santa Ana.” Continue Reading

#67 First Love by Ross Baxter

Jon sat on the couch and waited in the silent apartment. He expected it to be quiet; the Pasadena City College semester had finished the previous week and everyone was away on holiday, but not this quiet. He had only returned for a night to attend a one-off lecture on psychic potential, and it was there that he met her.

For the first time in his life he fell hopelessly and completely in love.

Continue Reading

#66 The Numbers Danced by Carol Louise Wilde

Shoshee settled her back against the smooth stone at the base of the tall rock-thing. She sat in its shadow, cross-legged on the smooth hard-white-rock that ran along the base of it. Her left hand lay in her lap, palm up, open to the sky. The fingers of her right hand rested on the weathered cranium of the broken skull that lay beside her. The rest of the bones were scattered nearby, intermingled with the broken fragments of a stone that must have fallen from somewhere high up on the face of the rock-thing.

Shoshee drew a long breath and let it out slowly. She closed her eyes, settling her mind, and softly spoke the Opening Words. It was a warm-bright morning in the Time of Shortening Days. Somewhere an insect buzzed. The only other sound was the breeze as it whispered softly around the edges of the rock-thing overhead. As she sat and breathed, and thought the Words, the sounds faded. When the spirit spoke, she listened.

Continue Reading

#65 Johnson County Mr. Coffee by Kelly I. Hitchcock

I stared down the fancy instrument panel of the $80 coffee machine, as if staring it down would make the “Clean” light turn off on its own. I had already punched the button, glowing a yellow-orange back at me, no less than a dozen times, but it refused to turn off.

I hadn’t even wanted this fancy coffee pot, or the fancy one we’d had before that, the one that decided it was better off without a power button that worked. I had wanted to keep the no-frills one that I’d kept back in my no-frills, one-bedroom apartment on the Missouri side of Kansas City. But no, when my boyfriend and I moved in together in Johnson County, on the Kansas side, where the air was crisp, we had to get the fancy coffee pot. The first fancy coffee pot broke after a year. Continue Reading