Once again I am participating in NYCmidnight.com ‘s Flash Fiction Challenge. It’s a competition for short stories with a max length of 1000 words. Contestants are given a random selection of Genre, Location, and Object.
As before, the location must be prominent, but the object does not need to be central to the story, though it does have to appear.
So, in that case:
Flash Fiction Challenge, Round #1
Genre: A Ghost Story
Location: A distillery
Object: A Tooth
I have to admit to having some difficulty with this one. I restarted the story at least 5 times before I got a beginning that led where I wanted it to go. On top of that, it was my grandmother’s birthday so that kept me busy. As a result, I didn’t finish this story until it was almost the deadline.
Submitted with 44 seconds left.
A pair of thieves hoping for a quick score, get more than they bargained for when the killer hasn’t left the building.
Sarah crept through the deserted building, holding close behind Rob. “Look,” she whispered. “I know it seems like a good score, but this is a murder scene.”
Rob stuck a finger in the air like a professor at a lecture. “A multiple murder.”
“That doesn’t make it better.”
“Aww, are you scared?”
“Only of getting busted. Now, come on. Let’s grab a few cases of booze and sweep the manager’s office for cash.”
“They’ll know we’ve been here.”
“That’s why we’re here tonight, before they clean up. Tomorrow the cleaning crew will be in and scrub this place clean. There won’t be a trace of us left.”
“What do you mean ‘before they clean up’?”
“Were you too high to pay attention earlier? They’re still investigating. That means it’s been left alone. No clean up and, especially, no inventory.”
Sarah thought about Rob’s words through her buzz until they made sense. “Are you telling me there are dead-flipping-bodies in here?!”
Rob whirled and jabbed his finger at a sign on the wall. Sarah’s gaze lazily followed the finger. There was a poster on the wall depicting a dozen bottles from the distillery. Each with different colored labels. “You see the black label?” Rob asked. “That’s the special reserve. They get 700 bucks for it in the stores. We can get at least 600. And if we find a case that has blood on it, I know some death junkies that will give us a grand a bottle. You want a piece of that or not?”
Sarah raised her hands in surrender. “Yeah, okay. Let’s just make it quick.”
“Then stop talking and move.”
Sarah nodded glumly, following Rob deeper into the distillery. “Don’t expect me to touch dead bodies.”
“Don’t be a wuss.” They rounded a corner into the building’s main holding room. “It’s probably not even- HOLY FUCK!”
Blood covered the warehouse floor. It was layered thick over and around a dozen heavy chalk outlines. Sarah blinked at the scene. Her mind too clouded to run. Faint moonlight streamed through the windows, glittering off the floor. A soft white rock near the door caught her eye. Her heart began to pound. She tried to keep silent, but the words still came unbidden from her mouth. “It’s a tooth.”
Rob lurched to the side of the hall and vomited into an empty cardboard box.
“We- We should go.” Sarah stammered.
“C-Can’t.” Rob shook his head. “Need the money. Just don’t step in the blood.”
He moved away. Sarah stayed where she was. Her buzz was waning fast now. The silence of the room rang back at her from the walls, broken only by the sound of Rob’s squishing sneaker. Seconds crawled by, creeping over Sarah’s skin like spiders. “How did it happen?” she asked.
“Some guy went nuts. Took down three of his co-workers with a box-cutter.”
“But… There are twelve bodies.”
Sarah watched Rob’s uneven pupils vacillate. “What?”
Instead of answering, Sarah only pointed to the floor. There, hastily drawn on the concrete floor, were a dozen heavy chalk outlines. Something passed through the light in the room. A flicker that Sarah felt more than saw. Rob sucked in a gasp and Sarah turned. There were bodies on the ground now. Each of the chalk outlines held a still form. The blood from their wounds spilled across the floor and steamed in the air around them.
Sarah closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to clear her drug addled vision. Maybe she was coming down early. Maybe she was coming down really hard.
Rob’s sneaker squealed again and he was gone. Sarah barely caught a glimpse of his long coat trailing behind him as he bolted back the way they came. She spun to follow and froze. The floor was moving. She blinked again. The drugs flowing through her system made it impossible for her to panic the way part of her brain said she should be. It wasn’t the floor that was moving. It was the blood. It was flowing back toward the bodies, flowing back into the wounds. In seconds, the blood was gone from the floor and every wound on every body had resealed.
The tableau played out in reverse. Half a dozen policemen rose from the floor with guns drawn. They closed ranks, tightening into a tactical formation. Strange flashes of light rippled from their hands, like bullets returning to their guns as they backed out the door.
A man in strange white coveralls rose next, rising from the floor into a crouch. His hands were gloved and his face masked. He looked like something Sarah had seen on a crime show. He was flanked by a pair of men in cheap suits. They held notebooks and their mouths worked silently, like they were talking in reverse. They left as well.
That left three. They stood in plain work clothes and moved around the machines with purpose and familiarity. Soon after they rose, the scene slowed and a fourth man joined them. He came in from the front and walked forward. He smiled a warm smile and waved toward Sarah. It was the gesture of a first date. A wave that said ‘I know who you are, even if we aren’t acquainted yet.’
Sarah’s blood chilled around the drugs pounding through her veins. Fresh blood dripped from the man’s hand, splattering off the floor. He turned to the three men with a laughing grin and Sarah ran.
She raced down the hall. Her footsteps echoed through the massive building. Near the front room she tripped over something that hadn’t been there before. She crashed, headlong, to the floor and careened into the wall.
Her vision spun. The smell of blood filled her nose. Rob’s lifeless face stared blankly at her from less than a yard away. His throat slit open. His blood steaming in the cold night air.
Sarah finally managed to scream.