Flash Fiction: Sample Collection

It’s the first Flash Fiction Challenge of WLTSTF’s second year. This week we’re allowed 1,500 words instead of the usual 1,000, any genre, picking five characters from a list of fifty randomly generated characters. I used a random number generator and was given:

  • #12 – The laid-back champion who hates children
  • #13 – The dexterous, funny hermit
  • #21 – The awkward, tolerant, philandering teacher who hates children
  • #32 – The poised sailor who is considered the best in his/her profession
  • #03 – The unathletic, boastful gigolo who belongs to a secret organization

Given that motley crew, plus one not-so-sublte addition, the story structure was obvious. It came in a little long, but three edits got it down to 1541 words instead of 1750+.

As always, comments and constructive criticisms are appreciated.

SAMPLE COLLECTION

The waiting room was beige, dirty, and decorated in a style best described as “abandoned 50’s government surplus”. I wasn’t sure if I was in purgatory or an actual level of hell. It could have gone either way.

Before I could do more than glance at the other occupants, a grimy door with a “Staff Only” sign on it creaked open. A wild-eyed, bearded, vaguely subhuman creature shuffled through. He was blonde-ish, disheveled, carrying a clipboard, and wearing a lavender lab coat with a nametag that said “Chuck.” He smelled of cheap booze, strained peas, and copier toner.

Chuck limped over to the lady sitting closest to the door. She was leaning back in her faded orange plastic chair, her long and athletic legs stretched out, and her arms folded under her small breasts. She looked Russian, probably a Commie.

She was wearing tights under some sequined costume that was a cross between a one-piece bathing suit and a tuxedo. It was odd that she was barefoot while wearing way, way too much makeup. There was a pair of ice skates on the chair next to her.

Chuck handed her a plastic, gun-shaped, video game controller. A pair of images appeared on the wall over the door. Chuck pointed to them while saying something to her which the room’s acoustics kept from me, but she immediately raised the “gun” toward one of the pictures, pulled the trigger, and the game was on. Pair after pair of pictures popped up, all showing people in various scenes of daily life. Whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, male, female, all kinds of combinations, but always with an adult and some kid. The skater lady would blow away one picture or the other, the losing image shattering, exploding, or bursting into flame. I didn’t know what the goal was, but a lot of pictures of a lot of babies and teenagers got offed. She was a good shot, which definitely showed she was a Commie.

Chuck made a note and a checkmark on his clipboard before moving on to the next person in the room. This poor schmuck was huddled on the floor next to his puke green chair, trying to hide underneath it, his eyes furtively glancing from side to side all around the room. I wasn’t sure if he was terrified or getting ready to attack. He was dressed in rags and smelled terrible, but he didn’t look emaciated or sick, so I didn’t think he was homeless, but it was pretty clear that he didn’t like strangers. When I got back to the office I would have to see if we had a file on him.

Chuck reached into the pocket of his lab coat and pulled out a bag of tennis balls, handing them to the guy while saying something softly to him. Confused, the guy stood up and said, “Sure, why not?” He started juggling five balls, while launching into some kind of speech. Again, with the funny acoustics, all I could catch of it was, “Three guys walk into a bar…” The dude was focused on his juggling like his life depended on it.

Chuck made another note and checkmark. He left the juggler to his punch lines and stepped in front of a woman who was shifting and squirming in her hard plastic chair, trying to figure out where to put her hands. As Chuck stopped and looked down at her, she finally put them under her thighs and sat on them.

From somewhere a small table appeared between Chuck and the squirmer. Chuck began to explain something to her. She nodded politely and paid attention to what he was saying, but when Chuck leaned down to pick up a folder of documents off the floor, she let him have an eye roll that would have been the envy of any prepubescent tween, then had a perfectly sincere and straight face showing when Chuck sat back up. Pinko, punk kids, never have any respect for their elders.

Chuck laid out a series of pictures, starting with a small child and then a rogue’s lineup of adults. The lady pointed at the picture of the kid and went off into some kind of diatribe. The words weren’t clear, but the derisive tone was. Chuck pointed at the pictures of adults before asking something, which made her shut up and start to blush. He asked again, forcing her to point at one of the pictures. Like he was playing three-card monte, Chuck turned over that picture to reveal  the nervous woman and the man pictured in flagrante delicto.

Another set of pictures, another apparent series of complaints about a kid seen in a schoolyard, another reluctant revelation, and another embarrassing picture with the kid’s father. The third time it seemed she had been caught with someone’s mother. I had to admire her promiscuity.

Leaving her to sort aimlessly through the pictures, Chuck again updated his clipboard went to a stocky, bearded man who was wearing a crisply tailored dress uniform. The navy blue coat was trimmed with four ornate bars of gold braid at the end of each sleeve. Across his chest were three rows of ribbons, the bottom row with two gold medals hanging down. I didn’t recognize the medals so he was probably from some foreign country, here scouting an attack on the good ol’ US of A.

The sailor stood as Chuck approached and looked him straight in the eye. He wasn’t sure what was going on here, but he calmly spoke to his examiner and answered his questions directly. Chuck seemed to be asking about some of the ribbons. The stories and explanations behind them were concise and to the point. Chuck quickly seemed happy with what he had been told. He offered his hand for the captain to shake before leaving. The weathered old sailor looked off toward a rolling horizon that only he could see, while Chuck updated his clipboard again.

I wasn’t going to stand up as the son of a bitch approached my chair. I didn’t know what his game was, but I wasn’t going to play it unless it was in my best interests. Unless he knew one of the secret signs of our Order, it was going to be nothing but name, rank, and serial number.

“I saw you watching when I was talking to her,” Chuck said, jerking his head toward the woman in sequins. “What do you think?”

My best interests, ahoy! “She’s pretty tightly wrapped, could use a good time to relax. She’s got a nice body, but I’ll bet she’s inexperienced where it really counts. I could show her an excellent time if she was interested.”

“Really?” Chuck asked, raising a furry eyebrow. He gestured at my silk shirt, open to the navel to show off what I had to offer, gold chains glaore, bling to the max, masculinity personified. “Are you sure you’re her type?”

“Chucky, baby! You have no clue of the exotic, erotic wonders awaiting her inside these pants. The ladies love this.” I grabbed my crotch and gave it a suggestive thrust to make my meaning clear. Sure, I could stand to lose a couple pounds, who couldn’t? No way that meant that this wasn’t Grade A Prime for the ladies.

Chuck nodded toward the other lady, still looking through the school pictures. “And her?”

“She’s wasting her time chasing all of those divorcees and lonely losers. If she really wants her world rocked, she should see me. If she scratches my back, I’ll make sure that I scratch hers, and by that I mean…”

“Yes, thank you,” Chuck cut me off, “I’m sure I know what you mean.”

As he made a final check on his clipboard, a booming voice came from the ceiling and the walls began to fade and become transparent. “Well done, Chthux!” a deafening voice exclaimed.

Suddenly I felt very light, disoriented, floating up out of the chair as I sat up, startled. My four companions were all thrashing and drifting through the air along with me. As the walls disappeared, it seemed that we were in a large, transparent egg surrounded by stars. A huge, blue and white globe floated below us.

The worst transformation was Chthux, who was shedding his human form and devolving down into something from an 19th Century horror story. There were multiple eyes, appendages, and a fair amount of slime.

The booming voice came again, this time from one side, and when I next spun around that way I could see a larger, uglier, slimier version of Chthux coming toward us.

“You have passed your human abnormal psychology stereotype field collection test with flying colors, my son! Now you will be able to conduct your own experiments on these vermin!”

“Thank you, father,” Chthux said. “What shall we do with these specimens?”

“You must be starving and you have earned your reward. They shall be yours to consume. Savor them and be ready for our next trip to the surface! Bon appetit, mon ami!

If there’s one thing the guys at Area 51 taught me, it’s that the only thing worse than slavering, slimy, space aliens are poser French slavering, slimy space aliens.

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