Late last year we did something similar to the current ongoing Flash Fiction Challenge. Then, we spent five weeks (here, here, here, here, and here) writing 200 words each week. Each week we used the previous work of someone or some group to build on. It was pretty fun.
This time we were misled by a devious and diabolical ringleader, who instructed us to write 500 words as the first half of a 1,000 word story. But then our beloved Big Chuck changed the rules on us, revealing last week that our 500 words were only the first third of a story. Last week we all took someone else’s first 500 words and added the “middle” 500 words of our own.
My first 500 words from two weeks ago was picked up by Jemima Pett and her continuation of my story can be found here. I really liked what she did and there are many suitably creepy things for us to figure out on our own. Alas, as of this writing, no one has picked it up to write a third act. Maybe later.
Last week I picked up the first 500 words from Aspen Gainer — her original post and website can be found here, while my 2nd 500 word continuation can be found here. This story thread has proven popular. So far it’s been picked up by Leah Heard and by Jon Stoffel. Both are wonderful and well written and I encourage you to read them.
Finally, this week we’re to pick up a story that we have yet to work on and finish it with a third section of 500 words. I’ve picked “Bust,” which is so far very creepy and ominous and threatening and not necessarily for those who don’t like horror or slasher films. Like me! Which is one of the reasons that it’s such a challenge to finish without screwing up too badly.
(Late, late note — this was a bitch to get down to size, my toughest edit in a long time. First draft was 731 words, second was 619, third was 541, fourth & final draft is 500 words on the nose. I win!)
“Bust” was started two weeks ago by Geletilari, continued last week by Sweetsoleah, and now completed by me. I hope everyone enjoys it!
BUST (Act Three)
Act One (by Geletilari)
I throw the dart up into the air and it hits the ceiling and sticks. I watch it, laying prone on my bed, pillow under my feet. My new white Hanes crew socks are so bright. I love new socks and underwear. I wiggle my toes and look back up to the ceiling, eyeing the blue dart and daring it to fall. As if on command, it releases its hold on the ceiling and drops, landing softly on my thigh, bouncing and resting on the bed.
I toss another dart northward and it does not make it to the ceiling, falling between my legs onto the sheet. I continue this way for some time. It is a game I made up and I change the rules every time. I don’t play it often. But I play it when I am angry. Why am I angry? I am angry because my brother Garth is successful. He is the golden boy in the family and he just got a new house and a new wife. I am angry because I am working at an Applebee’s instead of at the pool like I wanted to this summer. I am angry because Jeannette broke up with me right before our one year anniversary and after I spent money on concert tickets. I am angry because my name is Clark. Who am I, fucking Superman? I am angry that I will never be Superman.
I toss a red dart and it sticks. I roll over onto my belly and close my eyes. I wait for it to fall. The doorbell rings, and I jump up out of bed, catching the dart on my left forearm. It pierces the skin and I go to pull it out, looking out of the second story window. I love weekends. I smile for the first time this morning. Jehovah Witnesses! Two of them. One is a man in a nice suit, the other a lady in a pants suit. I can hardly contain my glee. Maybe today won’t be a total bust.
I open my top drawer and take out my revolver, sliding it into the back of my jeans. I grab a pair of cuffs.
“No, no, there are two of them.” I laugh and find some rope and a t-shirt and bound downstairs. The front door is at the bottom of the steps. I can see them peeking through the cut class window, altering the prisms on the quarry tile at my feet. Opening the door, I try not to look excited.
“Yeah?” I already see the woman take one step forward, a pamphlet in her hand already open to a specific page.
“Do you every wonder if God exists? Would you like to discuss it?”
“Yes, I’d like to. I’m very concerned about it.”
I open the door wider.
“Won’t you come in?”
Act Two (by Sweetsoleah)
With a bright smile the woman and the man step inside.
From here on it is easy for me, like following a pattern. It is not the first time that I will do this, but at this moment I feel like it is the most satisfying time.
A wicked grin spreads over my face while I close the door behind them. It only takes a few minutes for me to have them at the right place. A quick lie and they are in the basement. I show them the fitness room to appear polite, but then I lead them right through my favorite door.
„Inside please, the room is not as pretty as the one upstairs, but at least down here we have no problems with bugs. The exterminator said he would come yesterday, but he didn’t show up and now I can’t let anyone sit in there. It is really disgusting I am sorry.“
„No problem Mr. Bennington“, replies the man smoothly.
„Clark, please, Mr. Bennington is my father.“
I give him a friendly smile, before I turn away to close the door behind us. In front of us is not a room, but a small corridor with two other doors, one of those is a cupboard with my favorite playthings. They look back at me, but I shoo them forward. No need for them to know, that I will lock the door behind us. They reach the door on the other side of the corridor and open it. I know what lies behind. A small windowless room with four chairs and a table. No other furniture or decorations.
With a frown the woman turns around to look at me.
„Are you sure that we can’t sit upstairs? It would be a lot friendlier talking about the lord with the sun shining through the window.“
I put on the saddest expression and tell her the same lie again.
„Really I can’t let you see this and the smell is the worst. The only place that I can really use is this one. I am really sorry, but maybe you would like something to drink?“
Her smile doesn’t return, but she nods and I can feel the shell of my lie cracking. I have to move fast now. I smile reassuringly at her and move to the other door.
In the cupboard is everything I need. In the shadow of the door they both can’t see me and this is my chance. My smile broadens and I take my favorite knife out of the cupboard and put it on my belt. Next I take the revolver from the back of my jeans where I concealed it. The metall shines in the dim light and I check the safety off.
I step around the door of the cupboard and point the revolver straight at them. I remember the first time I did this my arm shook slightly, but today it is straight and strong. I am no longer nervous about this.
I grin at the man, who is looking at me with a strange expression.
„Stay exactly where you are, understand?“
Act Three (by Paul Willett)
“I understand, Mr. Benni…, uh, Clark. What are you doing?.”
“Shut up. Get into the room.” I wiggle the gun in that direction so there’s no misunderstanding. “Both of you, now.”
“No, Clark,” the woman says. “You promised we would talk about God. Salvation can be yours, but not this way.”
She’s supposed to be screaming. They always scream. What’s wrong with her, doesn’t she understand who’s in control here?
“Shut up and move. Get in there or the shooting starts.”
“Clark,” the man says, “what would your brother Garth think if he saw you right now?”
His words punch me in the chest. I stagger back and fall against the cupboard door. My gun drops to my side, leaving me vulnerable. I can’t ever allow myself to be vulnerable. I must be in control.
I quickly raise the gun back up, but neither of my guests moves to take advantage of my momentary weakness. My arm shakes again, just like that first time. My breath comes in short gasps as I stagger upright. I put the gun right in the man’s face.
“How do you know my brother?” I bellow. “Did that sanctimonious prick send you here? Did he tell you you were going to die here? Move or die! Your choice.”
The man’s melancholy gaze never wavers. The woman holds out that damn pamphlet again. “We must discuss God and salvation, Clark. Garth thought it might be a last chance to save you.”
I don’t need any more of this shit from either of them. With a quick motion, I shift my aim. Point blank, right between her eyes.
I pull the trigger.
This world becomes another.
The sound is deafening. The gun’s kick lifts my arm. Where there must be spattered blood and brains, there is nothing but gunpowder smoke, acrid and stinging.
The woman is a blur, now behind me. Somehow she finds my handcuffs, cuffs my free wrist, pulls and twists my gun hand down and back to cuff it. My arm breaks in two places. I have yet to take a breath since shooting.
I scream. I scream until my lungs ache. When I can finally stop screaming, I find myself bound to one of the chairs. The man is calmly tying a tourniquet on my arm, a jagged bone sticking out through the skin. There is a lot of blood.
“Who are you?” I scream hysterically.
“We are nobody, merely servants,” he says calmly.
“You should have listened,” the woman says. “You could have had salvation. Now you have damnation.”
I ignore her. My vision goes grey from the pain and loss of blood. I have a sudden moment of clarity. “Who are you servants of?” I ask.
The man stands and looks past me to the door, bowing his head solemnly.
“Hello, Clark,” Garth says, stepping into my view. “We’re going to discuss the secret to my success.”
Garth takes out a very large knife, his eyes starting to glow like coals.