Flash Fiction Friday: Retail Edition

Dead On Her Feet

“I really appreciate you understanding,” Jane said over the phone. “I promise to make it up to you as soon as I’m feeling better.”

“Sure,” I croak out. The sound of a crowd in the background makes me doubt her claim of being sick but I’m not high enough on the totem pole to demand a doctor’s note and the store manager is out with pneumonia.

“Ah, don’t tell me you’re catching whatever is going around, too,” she laughs.

“Sounds like it,” I say, flipping over my box of cold medicine. It’s only been six hours since I’ve taken it and it stopped working an hour ago. I wonder if two hours would make that much of a difference.

“Well, feel better and call someone if you need to go home sick.”

She hung up before I could ask her to not have me cover her shift tonight.

Fuck it, I decide. I’m taking another dose. I can sleep it off when I’m off in a few more hours.

I throw the pills back with the last of my water and wait for the inevitable cough that comes with the cold. It never comes and I’m grateful for the reprieve.

The rattling cough had been persistent for the last few days but it seemed to have past. My lungs feeling like lead probably meant it wasn’t a good thing but I was willing to not think about it for the rest of my shift.

Everything ached, including my hair and eyelashes. Blinking had become an effort of will as had thinking beyond the next few minutes.

I shuffled back onto the floor and my cashier huffed at me.

“It’s about time. And before you ask, no, I can’t stay. I have plans tonight.”

“That’s fine. It’s slow tonight, anyway. Enjoy your plans.”

She paused and looked at me. “You look like death.”

“Do I look bad enough to make you stay?” I ask.

The indecision flashed across her face and I shook my head. “Go home, Lauren. Enjoy your plans. I’ll be here.”

“If I didn’t already have plans,” she started and I waved her away.

“I understand. I’m the only one here without a life. Go on.”

Lauren didn’t need anymore nudging. She bolted to the back and came out a minute later with her purse. “It’s not fair for you,” she said as I walked her to the door. “You deserve a life, too.”

“Yeah, yeah, I croaked. I’ll go get one when I have the chance.”

She laughed and ran out the door to the only car in the parking lot with it’s headlights on. When she climbed into the passenger seat, I could see her lean across and kiss the driver.

New boyfriend, I thought to myself. Guess she has those kinds of plans tonight.

The store is dead, the only sounds the inappropriately upbeat pop music, the rattle of the air conditioning and my shuffling feet as I move around straightening shelves and stocking product.

I sit down for a moment in the chairs by the fitting rooms and feel my last breath gust out of me. The achiness in my limbs disappears and I look around.

It’s still hard to move and think but there’s not much to do so I just keep working.

A customer comes in and tells me she’s just looking when I mumble a greeting. A handful of clothes later, she calls me to the register and I get there as fast as I can.

My movements are slow and deliberate as I ring up her purchase and I can see her checking her phone distractedly. I tell her the total and she hands me cash.

I have to put the amount in twice, my fingers barely activating the touch screen and the drawer startles me when it pops open.

“Here’s your change,” I groan, trying to get her attention.

“What?” She snaps, finally looking up at me.

Anger flashes in her eyes and I’m suddenly hungry.

“Chaaaange,” I moan, trying desperately not to lick my lips.

“It’s about damn time,” she says, taking the money I hand her.

I watch in horror as I reach out and grab her. I pull her across the counter by her arm and ignore her screams. Each blow of her fists thuds against my arms but do nothing to stop me.

A wet cracking noise draws my attention to where I’ve grabbed her head, the red, sticky fluid running down my palms.

She looks like a watermelon and makes me think of steak as I take a bite of the first thing I’ve wanted to eat in months.

When I’m finished, I throw what’s left in the trash and grab the disinfectant. There’s a procedure for dealing with spilled fluids and I’m moving better after my snack.

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Flash Fiction Friday: Evening Edition

The subject of this story refused to come out before dark. Enjoy!

Working Prick

Honey, the vampire’s here.

I chuckle at the joke and the woman on the bed turns to look at me.

Hey, you look just like that horror author. The one who’s in all of his movies. Are you working here to research your next book?

Nope, just an unfortunate coincidence. I tell her, rolling my cart up to her bed. I’m a working vampire.

I thought vampires were supposed to be rich and glamorous.

Only if they start that way, I say, focusing on the vein in her arm.

Well, watch your investments and maybe you’ll manage the rich part.

Are you saying I’ve already managed the looks part? I look up at her and smile, the vials of blood slipping easily into their holders.

Honey, you have a face for radio.

Thank you for the compliment, Mrs. Sanders. The last person who noticed said I was a two-bagger.

Mr Sanders laughed and his wife giggled. They’d been keeping me company for the last week while they waited for her hip to heal. A feisty older couple, they looked like they could have been my grandparents.

In truth, they could have been my grandchildren.

I wave as I head out to finish my rounds, the vials clinking gently as I roll my cart through the hallways.

Everything is hushed in the hospital at night, even the machines take a quiet tone, as though unsure they want to wake the bodies they monitor. I wave to the nurse who’s working the desk and she waves back, her eyes focused on her paperwork.

The next room has no visitors, just an angry old man who snores in his sleep. A long list of contacts runs down the board on the wall with relationships next to them. Some have been smudged and moved around, as though there’s a pecking order in the old man’s health decisions.

Melanie Holmes is the last name on the list and the only person I’d met. She’d been in the night before, the smell of fries clinging to her uniform, just sitting by the old man’s side. I knew the old man was completely oblivious to her presence and told her so.

I  know, she’d said. I’m here for me. For a few minutes of peace before I have to go back out there.

She was so sweet, her face just showing the lines of stress two jobs and a crazy mess of a family can make. My heart had thumped hard in my chest as she watched me do my job and it made me envy the elders of my kind.

Ages ago, I would have scooped her up in my arms and taken her away, made her my bride before the end of the week.

Of course, ages ago, it was unlikely that we would ever have crossed paths. Rich and glamorous vampires didn’t meet a whole lot of waitresses unless they were skulking down back alleys looking for victims. And she likely wouldn’t have been missed.

Now, though, I have to at least attempt some form of seduction. Wooing her away from her normal life is the least I can do and far safer than abduction. And hey, as popular as vampires have been lately, she might even be interested.

For now, though, her grandfather was having blood drawn. A couple vials more than strictly necessary but he wouldn’t miss them. A couple patients like this every night was enough to curb the hunger. And the graveyard shift paid better than the day light ones because nobody wanted them.

It took only a moment to apply the bandage and put the vials in the cart. On the way out, I snapped a picture of his contact board.

Normally I would say it was too late to call but Melanie struck me as the kind of girl who liked to stay up late.

Besides, who calls anymore?

Taking a break in the lab, I pop open a vial and drink it, my fingers moving quickly over my phone’s screen.

Hey beautiful, missed you at the hospital tonight.

Had to work late. Who is this?

Just your friendly neighborhood vampire. I send with a chuckle.

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Flash Fiction Friday, Spooky Edition



I could feel my skin beginning to crawl as I waited in the drive thru. Drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, I could have kicked myself for letting myself get this hungry.

The day before I disappear for three days always seems to be filled with errands to run. No matter how diligent I am about staying caught up, there’s something I’ve left until the last minute and it ends up taking longer than it should.

Today, it was a trip to the post office and the bank. Mundane little things that wouldn’t have taken an hour between them any other time of the month but conspired together to take up my entire afternoon.

Instead of the late lunch I’d planned, I ended up in the drive-thru, waiting for the burger and fries that would tide me over until I made it out to the cabin.

Acres of empty space and elk to hunt would wash the rush hour traffic out of my soul for a few days and I’d come back human.

Until then, though, I was sitting in the world’s slowest drive through. Feeling the sun sinking over the horizon, teasing at dusk and sunset. The white moon taunts me from the sky, making my skin prickle with anticipation.

Finally, I make it to the window.

The girl with the headset is young and pretty. When she opens her mouth, I can tell that’s all she really has going for her.

“That’ll be fifteen seventy-five,” she chirps, holding her hand out.

“No it won’t,” I tell her.

“What? Oh! Right. Eight fifty,” she says, handing me a bag.

I hand her the card and sniff the bag. Something doesn’t smell right.

Absently reaching for the card, I open the bag with my food with one and and see my burger and a box for a pastry.

“Um, this isn’t what I ordered?” I hand the girl the box that says ‘pie’ in a funny script.

“Of course it is,” she smiles.

The sugary smell of pie permeates the bag, making me wrinkle my nose. “No, it’s really not. I ordered a burger and fries.”

“I gave you a burger and a pie,” she says, her pleasant face devoid of understanding.

“I ordered fries,” I tell her.

“Oh, but don’t you like pie? It’s one of our best menu items.”

I rub my hand across my face, half-expecting to feel hair sprouting. My stomach is prodding the back of my spine, reminding me that I haven’t eaten all day.

“I’m sure it’s delicious but all I wanted was the burger and fries.”

“So you actually want the fries?” She asks, her smile finally gone. “Everybody else has wanted the pies.”

“You’re really pretty,” I say, feeling my voice getting lower.

“Thank you,” she beams.

“You’re, what, fifteen? Sixteen?” I’m trying to convince myself that she’s not worth it. I have a rule against harming kids which basically boils down to ‘Don’t’.

“Nope, I’m nineteen.”

I can feel my eyes change, the hair start to grow on my arms. “Is that so,” I say, my mouth widening until my teeth start to show. “All grown up.”

“Yep,” she says, handing me back the pie.

Snarling, I grab her arm and pull her forward. The indignant look on her face changes to fear as I take hold of her pretty neck and pull her into the truck.

She’s skinnier than I’d like with about as much actual meat as a chicken nugget but she smells better than the charred flesh in the take out bag.

I’m out of the drive thru before anybody can react, the girl in the seat next to me passed out in terror.

Weak, I think, shaking my head.

I promise myself to only have a snack.

Because she is pretty.

And if she survives tonight, she can join me for the next full moon.

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Flash Fiction Friday

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to. Or as much as I should.

Or, well, at all, really.

Oh, sure, I’ve been writing some but this year just seems to be the year of not enough time.

And I promised things at the beginning of the year that I haven’t kept up with at all.

Which bothers me.

So, I have to ask a question.

I liked Flash Fiction Friday. Enjoyed writing the stories. Enjoyed coming up with concepts off of random titles. Enjoyed hearing the pained shouts of “Dammit, where’s the rest” from the other room.

Which brings me to the question:

Does anybody else like Flash Fiction Friday? Would you want to read more stories? Would you want them posted on the blog or as a kind of Patreon thing?

Let me know in the comments.

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What’s coming in 2016

Yes, I realize the blog has been quiet for most of 2015. This was mostly because of personal stuff but also because there’s been some behind the scene stuff going on that’s kept me from posting.

So, I wanted to let you know what has happened and is happening.

In 2015, Dreaming Tower and Copper Visions went live in their ebook forms on Amazon. The print forms should be available in the next few days.

One of the things I realized I missed over the last few months was the weekly flash fiction challenge. That will be coming back every Friday. For the whole year. The biggest behind the scenes challenge for that is going to be keeping all the stories organized.

Copper Flight, the sequel to Copper Visions, will be finished this year. I hate to give guaranteed dates but I’m looking at the end of February to some time in mid-March.

One of the behind the scenes things I’m working on is an actual mailing list and author website. Since this is one of the things I’m having to learn about before I actually do, it’s taking a little bit more time than I’d like but it will be live in 2016.

That’s all the promises I’m going to make tonight. Hope everybody has a happy and prosperous new year.

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Copper Visions

Just a quick update to let everybody know that Copper Visions is live at Amazon.


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Did you know…

that Flash of Copper is available in print?

I know, it’s been ages since I’ve talked about, well, anything. I blame work. It seems to eat up way too many hours of the day that would be better spent writing and publishing.

But here it is, in all it’s printed glory:


It’s available directly from Createspace right now and should be on Amazon within the next week.

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