The Imaginary Typist
I like to write fiction, too. Sometimes I put something into the Indies Unlimited weekly Flash Fiction contest. These are short, approximately 250-word entries based around a photo and a theme.
March 12, 2019
“Get up, you fool.”
I felt, rather than heard, the “brrrrt” and the whoosh of air nearly brushing my cheek. Slowly becoming conscious, I was aware, through the red glow behind my eyelids, the smell of hot dust, that daylight had arrived in the desert.
“What are you waiting for? You never finish anything unless I’m putting my boot up your backside.”
I rolled over and let the waking aches and pains ease up somewhat. I’d been following a smuggler through the Sonoran Desert, and was now somewhere west and south of Phoenix.
Through the heat waves shimmering above the valley floor, I spied a hummingbird as it momentarily settled onto a mesquite branch about five feet away.
“Aunt Wray? Is that you?”
“You’ve still got a day’s walk. Deadline is tomorrow, but you’re not going to get it done in time.”
Friends always marveled at my sheer audacity in these journalistic ventures. I always told them it was my Aunt Wray that pushed me through them. They didn’t know that she had died some years before, always appearing to me in the guise of a native animal.
“Let’s go.” She landed on my shoulder and caressed her head on my cheek.
Something in her voice made me look back.
And there I was, lying where I had died the night before, the dysentery that had killed me soiling my pants, my teeth bared in a rictus grin, hands curled like claws in the morning air.
March 30, 2019
Nisveta’s team, fine Arabians, was majestic. Anything else was silly, pulling such a magnificent carriage. Approaching the lakeside palace, she cracked her whip, spurring them to top speed, all foaming and wild eyed, long manes streaming.
The child stood rooted, frozen in terror. Before the Arabians crashed into him at full speed, a commoner rushed from the park, knocking the child out of harm’s way. She closed her eyes momentarily, savoring the multiple bumps as the carriage dispatched the boy’s father. Looking back in satisfaction at the crumpled and bloody heap in the roadway, she yanked the reins, forcing her frothing, overworked team into the yard.
Walking away, she had to turn, admiring her coach. New York City had nothing as visually stunning as her 1970 Beetle Convertible. The only thing close was her sister’s Gremlin, a closed coupe pulled by… a horse! She snorted. Twenty large muscular men, well-oiled and running at top speed was matchless.
Suddenly, one Arabian fell, nose bleeding. The wagonmaster knelt over the dying man.
“You better FIX HIM NOW!”
Viciously slashing her quirt repeatedly across the suddenly screaming Columbian’s back, realizing it was too late, Nisveta caught her breath, considering this pathetic, groveling creature.
He would do, she realized, very well. Similar size and appearance.
Drinking deeply from her golden goblet, she munched a juicy apple, selected because it perched perfectly on the fruit bowl’s rim.
“Stable boy! Put on this armor. Pose for me. Geld my newest steed, that beautiful kneeling Columbian.”
April 2, 2019
Spectacular, as always.
Joanie loved to savor the sunset deeply. Here on her mesa in the Painted Desert, sunsets were always stunning, brilliant, perfect. Feeling a chill on the breeze, she turned back towards the cabin.
Halfway down the hill, she noticed the Jeep. She quickly disappeared into the juniper trees. Joanie crept closer to the cabin, straining to hear…
“This ain’t the right place, Frankie. Nice lil place right here. Somebody’s gotta come back here pretty soon.”
“Wilbur, just set there and shut yer face! Long as that drive is, we could hear ’em afore they get here. Crumpet?”
Joanie was almost close enough to peek through the kitchen window, but resisted.
Briefly, she considered. Two men, out here nearly forty miles from the nearest town? Definitely up to no good. Backup shotgun in the feed shed was her best bet.
She made her painfully slow way to the shed, circling back out into the woods, retrieved her hotrod tactical Remington, then walked around front and took the keys from the open-topped old Jeep.
Wilbur was just starting to shake the heebie-jeebies off and settle in. He grinned and went to get him some a that sweet thing on the table.
BOOOOM!! The door literally exploded into sp!inters, and Frankie wet his pants. Wilbur tipped over backwards in his chair as tea sprayed and crumpets flew.
Joanie stood rooted in amazement, gun smoking. Two escaped convicts, dressed like Raggedy Ann and Andy! And Andy had wet his pants.
April 13, 2019
Edmund became conscious of a thrumming, palpable vibration in the air. Swearing, he sprinted to the crawler, entered the cabin.
He mashed the accelerator, agonizing on the descent into the valley. He admired the purples and pinks. The overhead glare starkly lit his former home. Finally! Done with farming, prospecting, the need to hunt for things that were hunting him. No more scratching, thirsting, wishing. Heading back to The Mother, like thousands of other homesteaders.
His entire 37 years had been spent on an asteroid the size of Connecticut. He stomped again, willing the ancient crawler down the hillside, wondering what The Mother was like.
The gorfdag he’d been stalking reared up, startled him out of his reverie, bumped the crawler… it slow motion flipped down the hill, ending half on its side.
Seeing red from a broken rib, he gasped and jerked awake. He’d only been out for a few seconds.
Easing the door open, he looked around. Nothing. Stepping out, sighting down the rifle as he swept the area, gritting against the pain, he sprinted.
“WHOOOOOOG!” The big bull! Gigantic feet thundered towards him. At the last second, he ducked and it swept over him. He fired and it fell. Not a clean shot. Its teeth clamped onto one boot and it screamed a last, moaning breath, his foot still clamped in its teeth.
A blinding flash of light paralyzed him in realization. He sobbed, spying the column forming in the atmosphere.
The migration had begun.
April 20, 2019
Gradually, the din subsided and he was alone. Lysimachus grunted with pain and exertion, straining. No use.
Sacred oath kept, the huge Spartan lay on his shield. Problem was, the shield lay on top of Lysimachus. Blood flowed from the deep wound on his calf, inflicted by the falling warrior. The helot was keenly aware of his raging thirst, the bleeding wound… and that Similars would be roaming.
Alone, heartbeat racing, he mentally screamed as movement caught his eye to the left. A huge vulture, arm’s length away. Oionos! Bad, bad omen… huge beak reaching now… He braced himself.
With an obscene sucking sound, it yanked the Spartan’s right eye out, cocking its head as if to jest, amused by his horror.
“A very bad omen, friend! But not for you!” Lysimachus flinched at the deep, laughing voice. He’d thought it was the vulture. Huge Athenian hands pulled him free. “You’re property of the State! This omen is for Sparta! But now… you’re Messenian again. No longer a helot.”
Lysimachus drank deeply of the offered skin. “What…?”
“Rebel slaves have done what heroes could not. Sparta herself kneels before you…
“Bind this legend’s wounds!”
Head spinning, Lysimachus felt the darkness lift from his soul. His love and their children avenged. Murdered by the Kryptia, by the very man lying here.
They had recognized each other instantly, and in surprise the Similar had lowered his sword tip.
One moment in eternity.
Another heartbeat, and both had fulfilled their oaths.
August 24, 2019
All down Route 66, Giants stood astride the Golden Land.
Main Street to Main Street, Mystical Mother Road joined every American between Lake Michigan and Santa Monica Pier.
Car people? Everyone was car people then… Invoking “Route 66” meant “roadie.”
Way Out West. Sometimes Back East. You know, man. DNC in Chicago, crash the Party.
Epic life-changing journey…
At Barstow, swing north for Frisco. Before Barstow, you left 66 to see Hoover Dam and Vegas. Crossing into NorCal, lost in Humboldt County.
Young soldiers, three wars, packed into “cattle cars,” rails paralleling Route 66. Japanese-Americans rode the same cars, for reasons just as depressing.
Tiny towns with nothing, suddenly world famous. Shared memory among millions.
Truth or Consequences. Gallup. Holbrook, Winslow, Flagstaff, Arizona. Don’t forget Fredonia.
Learned To Drive on Route 66. Recall these very statues…
Not all of them. Not even this place. (Hatch County, New Mexico.)
Jarring this teenage boy alert. Upcoming turn. Weirdly lit in desert darkness, huge neon at a nearby hotel.
Some of us old soldiers? Still here.
Many have fallen. The mission continues. Across these harsh deserts, beckoning titans still overwatch that long, long journey into the sunset.
November 9, 2019
Kelton checked his watch, using the sun’s position with the hour hand to determine his heading. He’d come down the Corridor from the Grand Coulee, putting the canoe in at Moses Lake. Untying it from the luggage rack on the now-submerged Wagoneer, it was a few hours to the southern shore. He’d hiked right across the country club golf course heading back to the Columbia.
Hanford was waiting, down on that bend. Across from the spot on the firing center, where their squad had been parked that summer… wait.
He knew something ahead had caught his eye. Out here in this part of the Cascades, there was really nobody from here to Ellensburg. Last thing he needed was a grizzly or a horny elk. Crouching under the nearest shrubbery, he waited. Listening, intently scanning the terrain ahead, he knew if he was downwind of a bear he’d smell it.
Closing his eyes, he sniffed tentatively.
Kelton literally jumped three feet, spinning around with his rifle up. Torkino? How?
“What UP, DAWG! Let me help ya outta there BROTHA!!”
Breaking the Columbia’s surface, screeching breath tore his lungs. He was freezing to death, hallucinating. He was here to retrieve Torkino’s dog tags. He’d drowned during field exercises, back in ’87. Whimpering in dread, he could smell it now. The river knew!
Face to face with the largest grizzly in the Cascades, hoisting him out of the river.
But only for a minute or so.
November 30, 2019
Nobody ever knew what happened. Eva was catatonic when they found her, perched midstream on a rock, wearing fishing waders and little else. Her face bore a mild powder burn.
Matt was nowhere to be found. Within the cabin were the remnants of a heavy drinking session, Tequila Moonglow ingredients everywhere. There were half a dozen empty pints and a half-full quart. Smashed fruits were all over the cabin.
Sheriff Bludgins stood silently staring into the fireplace, trying to piece together some sequence in his mind that would explain things. He was studying a pair of lace panties in the fireplace and drawing a blank when he heard a rustle behind him.
“Put it down, Millie. Hasn’t been dusted for prints.”
Millie, reporter for the Frost Summit Gazette, sheepishly backed away from the half-full bottle. “Has, too. Elmer just finished while you were staring at underwear.”
Elmer nodded solemnly. “Not a single print on anything, Chief. Well, except for Millie’s pawprints, now.” Apparently Millie and Elmer’s on-again, off-again melodrama was off again, Bludgins noted.
“Ok, Millie, it’s all yours. Just forget where you got it.”
Up the river, the camper family’s 10-year-old girl smashed a bottle on a rock. Eva started screaming at the top of her lungs, over and over, “MURDER! BLOODY BLOODY MURDER! BLOOD EVERYWHERE! Blood everywhere.” She broke off, sobbing.
The little girl never heard Matt screaming inside the bottle, but she did notice blood everywhere, dripping off the rock.
December 28, 2019
Snow blindness. Hypothermia.
I couldn’t really see anything. It was like looking at a hazy, smoky cloud or frosted glass. Couldn’t really feel anything, either.
I knew the warmth that started a few minutes before wasn’t actually real. I was freezing to death and needed shelter fast. But which way to go? I was well and truly lost.
Remembering the highway came into the resort from the south, I decided to risk it all and stumbled sunward. My spirits were sinking lower as I went.
Gradually, I began to make out shadows. Big shadows. Maybe it was a cliff or a steep slope. I began to despair. I started to sob when I thought of my faithful pooch waiting at the door for a master that would never come home. I recorded a last video message for my family as I trudged purposefully onward. I heard noise. Traffic! I felt my spirit soar. I started to wave my arms. Suddenly, a creature leaped at me, striking me as I tried to dodge.
“Whoooa, heads up, dude!” SPLOOSH!
What? Hot water! Something grabbed my face! I struggled mightily.
Then the fog lifted. I was staring at a girl in a bikini. I had fallen into the hot tub at the resort.
“Why were you walking around the hot tub making a video?”
Sheepishly, I realized I had panicked when my goggles fogged, as I walked past the hot tub towards the slopes. Somebody gave me a beer as everybody laughed.