Boxes Upon Boxes. Flash Fiction.

Sally gasped as she felt the thin paper bite into her skin. She quickly put her finger in her mouth, a faint taste of copper coated her tongue, she shuddered slightly, she always hated the taste of blood. She took her finger from her mouth and examined the paper cut, it was small, not too deep and already the bleeding was slowing. She looked at the boxes of paper that filled the office, really she was lucky that her fingers weren’t covered in the damn things by now. She sighed and looked at the pile of papers on the desk, she’d only been here for two hours and already she hated it and there were still another three months to go. She didn’t understand why they needed someone to go through all this paper and make sure it was in the correct order and location, there had been nothing out of place so far, it seemed like they were paying her well to basically sit around all day. She picked up a short stack of paper and started going through them, quickly scanning to make sure the page numbers matched. She reached down for another page and felt that same sharp pain on her index finger. She shook her finger angrily this time, she didn’t think she could deal with the taste of blood again, she was still feeling a bit delicate from the last time. She looked at the cut, it wasn’t bad, just a small one like the other. She didn’t notice the small droplets of her blood that splattered onto the carpet, nor did she notice as the carpet absorbed them, leaving no sign that they were there to begin with.

Sally continued working her way through the papers, she was not having a good first day. Already she’d gotten four paper cuts and the flickering overhead lights were starting to give her a headache. Everything about this place just seemed awful. Sally cursed as she got another papercut, the other ones were starting to sting as she moved her hands, this one was slightly deeper than the others, blood welled up and started flowing down her finger, fat drops of blood landed heavily on the desk and floor. She needed a first aid kit and probably a pair of rubber gloves to work safely around whatever nightmare paper the company had purchased. She stood, her legs feeling a little unsteady, bright spots of colour bloomed in her vision, a strange buzzing filled her ears, she reached out to steady herself against the chair, as her hand grazed its surface Sally fell to the ground with a heavy thud. The carpet around her rippled as her finger bled steadily onto it surface. There was a faint tearing sound then Sally began to sink into the floor. She moved slightly, she was feeling groggy and out of place. Sally reached out to push herself up but as her hand hit the thin, scratchy carpet it sunk through it, by the time she realised what happened she was already halfway through. She struggled weakly against the strange, sticky substance that was pulling her down but the more she struggled the tighter it seemed to hold her. She could feel the carpet enfolding her body, it was disgustingly warm and felt almost sweaty against her skin. She tried to cry out as it started to cover her face, carpet rushed into her mouth, smothering the noise. The carpet writhed for a moment, then it lay flat and perfectly still.

Three hours later someone opened the door and looked into the office, there were piles of paper and a few open boxes on the desk beside them, the new girl was nowhere to be found. Bob sighed, this was the fourth worker that just quit mid-shift without telling anyone, they were never going to get through all this crap. He shook his head and closed the door, personally he would just shred it all, it wasn’t like they even needed any of it. He walked away from the office, he’d have to let HR know and they’d probably ask him what he did wrong. Bob sighed, it was the last thing he needed today.

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Testing. Short Story.

Beth walked down the corridor, ignoring the occupants in the cages on either side. One or two of them called out weakly as she passed, she didn’t pause in her strides, her high-heels clacking on the cold cement floor. She didn’t have time to be concerned about the welfare of the prisoners, there were more important things to be worrying about, besides they were treated well enough. They were given three meals a day and plenty of water to drink and that was all the deserved. If they were here they were bad people, they only got the worst of the worst here. All of them were too dangerous to be put into the prison population, each of them had committed atrocious crimes. She reached the end of the corridor and let herself through the door, keys jangling as she unlocked it, then she relocked it behind herself. She continued on into the locker room where she changed into a pair of scrubs, with that done she left and went into the operating room.

The operating room had concrete floors that were splattered and stained, the walls weren’t much better. The only clean parts of the room were the surgical instruments which shone in the overhead lights. The doctor was already there, Beth wasn’t entirely sure he ever left the prison. He glanced up as she came in, “Good morning Beth.”
“Good morning Dr. Franks.”
He went back to looking at a chart, “We’ve a busy day ahead of us.”
Beth nodded, they were always busy days.
“Did we get that shipment of anaesthetic in yet?”
“No. Not yet.”
Beth sighed, “I always hate operating on them when they’re still completely with it, they can wiggle too much.”
“You know this work is too important to wait.”
“Yes Doctor, I do. Who do we have first today?”
“Tommy.”
Beth grimaced, “I hate dealing with him. I know he gets off later thinking about me touching him.”
“Well, we’re almost done with him, only another two operations and then he’ll be useless to us.”
“Thank god.”
Outside someone banged on the door, “Come in.”
Two guards entered, they wore matching black uniforms and expressionless faces. Between them they dragged a man wearing stained overalls, “Good morning Tommy.”
“Fuck you bitch.”

Dr. Franks shook his head, “That’s no way to speak to a lady.”
Tommy sniffed, “She isn’t a lady. She’s a bitch and you know what I’d like to do to her?”
“I could guess.”
The doctor pointed to the table, “Usual place please gentlemen.”
Tommy struggled half heartedly as the two men lifted him easily and tied him to the table.
“Don’t worry, we wont be spending too long with you today. We don’t have anything to numb the pain so we have to be careful, don’t want to send you into shock or anything.”
Tommy shook his arms, testing the restraints. “do what you gotta do doc. When I get out of here you’re the first one on my list.”
“I’ve been here for twenty years and I’ve been the first on many lists, yet here I stand. Maybe you’ll have better luck than all those others.”
“Fuck you.” He spat at the doctor, the glob of spit landing on the floor with a sullen splat.
“Nurse, would you please start?”
“With pleasure Doctor.”
Beth picked up a scalpel and cut off Tommy’s dirty t-shirt, she pulled the fabric away, glancing away in disgust as Tommy licked his lips at her, his chest was a criss cross of scars, some inflicted here some inflicted before he had arrived. Without hesitation Beth made a shallow cut down the centre of his chest, blood started welling up, Tommy didn’t scream. He never screamed. She moved the scalpel back to the start of the incision and cut along it again, this time going deeper. On the third cut she sliced through. “He’s ready for you now doctor.”
“Good. Thank you.”
The doctor moved beside Tommy and carefully reached one gloved hand inside him, poking and prodding. Tommy had a thin sheen of sweat over his face, he’d gone pale.
“On a scale of 1-10, please rate your pain.”
“It’s about a 5 doc.”
“Good.” he wrote a quick note with his free hand. “fascinating. You know how much you could be helping the world? If we can figure out what causes the dulled pain sense we could save a lot of people a lot of pain.”
“Fuck other people Doc. I don’t give a shit.”
“At this point most people wouldn’t be able to form coherent sentences, never mind speak clearly.”

Tommy grinned at him, “Guess that makes me better than most people.”

The procedure went on for another hour, when it was finally over Beth quickly stitched up the incision. “just one more then I’m out of here.”
Beth shook her head, “you know you’re not getting out of here right? This is just the start. We’re not the only ones who want to have a look inside you, we’re just the most gentle.”
Tommy shook his head, “I’ve got a plan. I’m getting out.”
“Sure you are.”
Beth went to the door and opened it, she nodded to the two guards outside. They came in and grabbed Tommy roughly and began dragging him back to his cell. “I swear to god I’m going to get out of here you bitch and after I deal with the doctor here I’m coming for you.”
Beth rolled her eyes, he wasn’t the first to threaten her and he wouldn’t be the last. She had a long day ahead of her, too long to let such threat bother her.

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The Intruder. Short Story.

Tom put the teabag into his mug, outside her could hear that damn dog from 54 still barking away. It never shut up. He sighed, it wasn’t the dogs fault his owners left him outside all the time, he glanced out the rain spattered window, if he was trapped outside in this weather he’d probably be yelling too. The click of the kettle startled him from his thoughts, he picked it up and filled his mug with water. As he placed the kettle back he the barking stopped suddenly, he smiled to himself, someone must have taken pity on the poor dog and taken him inside finally. As he fished out the teabag he heard a scream, he frowned, had he heard that right? There were a lot of kids in the area so he was used to screams but it sounded more like a scream of horror. He was standing still, tea bag dripping on the counter. When no other sound came he took the tea bag and threw it into the bin, it was probably just his imagination, it had to be one of the kids playing around. They were always shouting, even in the rain. He added a splash of milk to his tea then took a sip, sighing in satisfaction he turned and left the kitchen. It was Saturday and that meant lots of TV and not a lot of moving. Normally he’d spend the day with Jacob, snuggled together on the couch but Jacob was off on some work conference, they happened a few times a year. Normally Tom didn’t mind all that much but on a rainy day like today he’d be lying if he said he didn’t miss him. It really was the perfect day to laze around.

He sat down on the old, comfortable couch, sinking into the cushions, he picked up the remote and pressed play, Jacob wouldn’t be impressed to find out Tom was catching up on American Horror Story without him, but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. From outside came the sound of breaking glass. Tom frowned and paused the TV, that wasn’t his imagination this time, he’d definitely heard something. He stood from the couch and peered around the blinds of the large window, the street looked normal enough. There was no one outside, the road was deserted, rain continued to fall, it looked like it was getting heavier. He turned from the window and left the sitting room, he went upstairs and looked out the window of the front room hoping for a better view, everything still looked normal enough. He turned from the window, feeling a faint pang of anxiety, just as he was about to go downstairs, he remembered the back. He went into his room and carefully stepped around the piles of clothes, Jacob was terrible at putting stuff into the wash basket, Tom shook his head, he hated nagging Jacob about it but he knew if he didn’t it would never be cleaned. He looked out the window at the back gardens, he glanced to the left, all fine, he looked to his right. In the garden next door he could see the mangled remains of their dog. He felt his stomach clench and he felt vomit at the back of his throat. The poor thing had been torn apart, its fur was matted and brown with the blood, splashes of it adorned the walls. He turned from the window and as he did so caught the shimmer of shards of glass in the grass. He stumbled from the room, tripping over a discarded hoody, he regained his balance and ran to the bathroom, his mouth started to water as his stomach clenched again, he flicked up the toilet seat just in time as a cascade of vomit erupted from his mouth. He coughed, once, twice, then grabbed a wad of tissue and wiped the thin, mucusy strands from his nose. He rinsed his mouth at the sink until he could no longer taste the bitter, acrid taste of vomit. His phone, he needed to call the police, something bad was happening next door, his hand went to his pocket and found it empty. He’d left it on the couch. He ran from the bathroom and down the stairs, as he reached the bottom he heard the sound of breaking glass from the kitchen and a heavy thud. Tom froze, he glanced at the door to the sitting room, would he have time to grab his phone? He could hear the sound of crunching glass in the kitchen and then a heavy footstep. Tom turned and grabbed at the door, it wouldn’t open, he wrestled with the handle for a second before spotting the keys in the lock, he’d locked it before going to bed the night before and hadn’t opened it since. He started to turn the key, his other hand scrabbling at the chain when he heard the kitchen door open. He realised with a dull horror that the porch was locked too. He let go of the keys and turned, running up the stairs he only had time to glimpse the intruder, it was a man, at least six foot tall, if not taller and broad, he wore a heavy green jacket that was splattered with bright red streaks of blood. In one hand he held a long blade, its silver surface had streaks of blood and gore.

Tom slammed the door of the bedroom behind him and locked it. He looked around the room for a weapon, but there was nothing. He could hear the intruder walking up the stairs slowly, each footstep a loud boom that echoed through the house.

Tom whimpered as there was a gentle scratching on the door as the intruder scraped the blade back and forth across it. The intruder lifted his hand and knocked three times, Tom jumped with each heavy bang. He had to attack when the man broke through the door, it was his only hope, he picked up the small lamp from his bedside locker, it wasn’t heavy but he could throw it at the man and distract him, maybe enough for him to get away. There came a heavy pounding from the door which shook in its frame. Tom could hear the thin wood start to crack and splinter, he gripped the lamp tightly, the door burst open, Tom threw the lamp as hard as he could, the man batted it away effortlessly. He started reaching for anything he could, a book, Jacobs hoody, the intruder walked towards Tom casually, batting each thing aside. Tom didn’t realise he was backing up until he hit the wall. He was out of things to throw, he had to get past the man somehow. Having stopped searching for things to throw Tom looked at the man properly for the first time, he was taller than Tom had first thought, he was well above six feet, probably closer to seven. He grinned, his lips stretching wide to reveal perfectly straight and white teeth, his eyes were sunken slightly, but they were wide open and glittered with madness. The man took a step forward, Tom took a deep breath, as the man took another step he dove to the right, pivoting around him, he felt a surge of triumph just before the blade hit his back. Tom cried out as he fell, his entire back was on fire, he couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, there was nothing but pain and the hot, slick feeling of blood soaking into his clothes. He moaned as the man reefed the knife from his back and brought it down again and again. Arcs of blood splattered across the room, staining the walls an ceiling. Tom lay still, his eyes glassy, still the man kept going. Finally he pulled the blade from Tom’s corpse, he looked at the body then nodded to himself. Then he turned and left the room, he had places to be, after all there were plenty of houses around and he planned on having a long, busy day.

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The Maze. Short Story.

Gwen leaned against the wall, her breath coming in short gasps, she had been running for what felt like hours and she was still trapped in this damn maze. She raised her head and looked around, “I’m done, seriously. I quit. I want out of here.” There was no response. Part of her knew this wasn’t the game she had been told it was, but she still clung to the hope that someone would step out from behind the wall and tell her it was all just a joke. Behind her she could hear the gentle scuffle of someone approaching, Gwen stood up from the wall, her feet were aching, but she had to continue forward. She started walking at a slow pace, it was better than nothing. Her mouth was dry and her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. The thin cut on her arm still burned but she was able to ignore it for the most part. Her t-shirt and shorts, a clean white when she began, were already dirty and stained. She didn’t know where the others were, they had started off in a group of ten and they’d been separated one by one. She didn’t even know if they were still alive. The walls of the maze were smooth and grey, they stretched up into the sky, at least twenty feet tall, they were cold to the touch and far too smooth to climb. The ground of the maze was made of the same grey rock as the walls, but it wasn’t smooth, it was filled with cracks and dips, each one just waiting to snag an unwary foot. Gwen wiped her hair out of her face, the sweat sticking it to her scalp in clumps, when she got out of this she was going to kill Charlotte, her and her whole adventure sports kick. It was supposed to be like a haunted house maze where you had to escape, but it wasn’t supposed to be this crazy, it wasn’t supposed to be real. She had seen the maze from the outside and remembered thinking it wouldn’t be that difficult. Then they’d blindfolded everyone and brought them in. Gwen didn’t remember much of that part, hands had spun her around a few times before they started guiding her. It hadn’t seemed like they had been brought that far into the maze itself, but she had been here for hours and was no closer to finding an exit. She had thought it was all just a game, right up until one of the “actors” had attacked her with a knife. If Gwen hadn’t ducked away at the last second the cut would have been much, much deeper. A screamed echoed through the maze, Gwen stumbled to a stop, she was panting heavily, there was no sound behind her. Who had screamed? She leaned against the wall, almost sliding down it, this maze was impossible, she hadn’t even come to any dead ends yet, it just kept sprawling on and on. How was she supposed to get out if she couldn’t even find a dead end? Her breathing began to slow and steady, her dry throat was maddening, she looked up at the deep blue sky, what she wouldn’t give for a quick burst of rain, it wouldn’t be much but the drops she could catch on her tongue might ease the awful dryness in her throat. That gentle shuffling noise came from behind her again, now that she wasn’t breathing as heavily she noticed the other sound, it sounded like someone dragging the tip of a knife along a stone wall. She shuddered, the cut in her arm giving a sullen pang of pain. With a groan Gwen stood, her feet were throbbing steadily now and she began to walk as fast as she could, running was beyond her a this point.

Gwen took a left, then a right, the sound kept getting closer and closer all the time, pushing her on. She had finally accepted this wasn’t a game anymore, she had known the moment the knife had cut into her flesh and the man wielding it had raised it for another stab. She had tried to convince herself that the struggle between the man and Tom hadn’t been real, it was just acting, a fake out. She didn’t know how the struggle ended, she had already started running before she knew what she was doing, but she could guess. There had been more screams, three or four, she wasn’t sure anymore. She turned the next corner and stopped. Ahead of her was a smooth wall, she had finally found a dead end. She turned, the sound of the shuffling was close, so close it sounded like they were almost on top of her. She could try going back the way she came, but there had been no turns for a long time before this, it had just been smooth wall. She moved back until her back was pressed against the wall, maybe whoever it was was just as lost as she was, after all they couldn’t possibly be following her all this time.

The man holding the knife stepped around the corner, her grinned at her and raised the knife, he broke into a shuffling run and dove at her, Gwen screamed as the knife pierced her body, the pain was white hot and all consuming. He lashed out viciously, the blade finding it’s target again and again. When he finally stop Gwen lay in a bloody heap on the ground, her breath came in thin, reedy gasps, the man bent over and pressed the now warm blade of the knife against her throat, he winked at her, then pulled it across, her throat opening in a wide, toothless grin.

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No short story today.

There won’t be a short story today, I’ll be back with another short story on Monday, hope everyone has a good weekend!

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A Chair Fit for a King. Flash Fiction.

The throne was made of iron with a thin gilding of gold, over time it had worn away along the arms of the throne, but the rest shone brightly. Ornately carved vines twisted their way around it, sprouting leaves and flowers along the way while delicately carved animals gambolled and frolicked, the carvings were so intricate and small that it would take hours of viewing to see them all. Despite the small nature of the designs they did not look overcrowded or busy, instead it was a delicious feast for the eyes. Jonathan sat upon the throne, though it had been years since had seen it properly he still remembered the carvings, as a child he would sneak it and gaze at them all until he was finally caught and shooed away by one of the servants. The ropes that bound him to the throne were made of material that felt like soft velvet, but they were stronger than steel. He had spent many hours struggling against them, as the raised scars on his wrists and ankles could attest to. The one across his chest hadn’t done much damage, but that was mostly because he couldn’t move his chest all that much, there was just enough room for him to breathe deeply. Every morning and evening servants came and bathed him with cool, damp cloths, they would empty his waste bucket which was artfully hidden by small black curtains that were pulled tightly closed between the legs of the throne. He had been sitting here for almost twenty years, his legs had already atrophied, more thin sticks of bone and skin than anything. His stomach hung heavily in his lap, he ate frequently, it was the only thing that helped pass the time. As a child he had looked upon it as a noble sacrifice, despite his fathers insistence that it was awful, but Jonathan could not understand how awful it truly was, not until he too was bound to it on his sixteenth birthday, the day his own father died of infection along the sores of his back and buttocks. The chair still smelled of rot and damp and sweat when they tied him into it. Somewhere along the dark and dimly remembered halls of the palace a clock struck ten, soon it would be time for the Royal Maiden, she would come nightly until she conceived another child. Jonathan found the act itself more one of duty than pleasure, he didn’t like the way he couldn’t move his body to match her rhythm, or reach out and stroke one hand softly down her back. No, it was nothing more than a mechanical act, he did it simply because it was his duty.

He heard a noise in the darkness, he didn’t bother looking to see what it was, probably another servant. He remembered his father calling out, his voice booming in the large room and echoing through the halls, asking if it was an assassin come to finally end him. Jonathan had never entertained the hope, why would he? There hadn’t been an assassination in over seven hundred years and even then it could be argued that it was more a case of a bad chef than an intentional killing. A servant walked into view carrying a tray, he hadn’t realised it was already time for his evening meal. Time stretched out endlessly here, but it was a duty that needed to be fulfilled. The people were bound to him, just as he was bound to them.

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In the Darkness. Flash Fiction.

“The dead can be a little restless, you need to walk through the tunnels at least once every four hours. You don’t have to speak to them if you do not want to, they find the presence comforting enough.”
“But why do they need our presence?”
The old man’s face darkened, “We do not really know, it is not something that is widely discussed, few among the public are even aware of the service that we provide. We all have our own theories. Did they tell you that I died once?”
“No, they didn’t.”
He shook his head, “Awful business. I was only a child, I fell into a pond and drowned, luckily a man passing by was able to revive me. I don’t remember much about that man, but I remember the awful, cold blackness that filled me. There was nothing on the other side, no god, no light, no past relatives. It was cold and it was empty and I was completely alone. That is why the dead find us comforting I think. They can feel the living as they pass by.”
The old man sighed heavily, “I dread having to go back to that place every day. I know it’s what awaits me, awaits all of us.”
The young man had gone pale, he felt faintly nauseous, he had never really given much thought to what happened after you die, he had just assumed it would be like they said, eternal peace and happiness. From one of the alcoves came a low, mournful moan. The young man jumped, the old man chuckled at his discomfort. “they like to call out to us sometimes, remind us that they are still here. You’ll get used to it, they mean no harm. It might seem scary at first but you’ll adjust. Probably quicker than you expect too.”
The young man turned as he saw movement out of the corner of his eye, he let out a startled yell that was bordering on a shriek, the old man stopped his slow, steady walk and turned, frowning at the corpse that was now sitting up in its alcove. The yellowed sheet had fallen down its chest, revealing an emaciated body. The skin of the corpse was a deep brown, its eyes were two black pits in its face, its cheekbones jutting out sharply just below them. The young man opened and closed his mouth, then finally he was able to speak, “Do…do they always do that?”
The old man was frowning, he had gone slightly pale, “No, I’ve never seen them do that before.”
The corpse raised its hands and clasped them together, the bones in its fingers creaking and cracking at the movements. It opened its mouth and drew in a long, rattling breath before it started to talk. The voice came as more of a hiss, it reminded the young man of the sound of air being let out of a balloon.
“There’s something here in the dark, please. Save me.”
Around them they could hear the sound of more an more of the corpses sitting up, the same phrase echoed throughout the winding labyrinth, as each corpse pleaded with the living, “Save me.”

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