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Flash Fiction Month #3, Episode 2: Menace From Beyond The Starbucks

Another episode of the third season of Flash Fiction Month. Read the last installment here, and read the installments from the second Flash Fiction Month here.


A fragment of puff pastry drifted lazily through the air, and yet again Wes had to ask himself how he’d gotten into such a terrible mess.

In retrospect, it must’ve begun when the European Space Agency claimed they’d made first contact with an alien species. This was happening ever more frequently, and once Wes had overcome his shock at the ever stranger smorgasbord of xenoforms on the city streets, he began to wonder why it was always Europe finding new species. Why couldn’t NASA get a few? Wes was a proud-blooded American who could trace his ancestry all the way back to a rustic cabin somewhere in the South Carolina Piedmont before things got hazy, and like any proud patriot, he spent much of his free time commiserating with his friends in a vaguely Italian coffee shop.

“I’ll take a cinnamon cruffin and a caramel macchiato,” said Wes to the barista on duty. He paid for the items, turned to find a table, and slammed straight into a pile of snot.

“!!! !$$@ $!  ! !($ !#_!” it shrieked. The ESA had christened this aliens’ species the “Wackelpuddings” for their amorphous construction. Its companion (a sharkman from Sigma Sagittarii) growled and slapped a fin to its face as Wes stepped back, desparately seeking to extract himself from the Wackelpudding’s body.

“Look, I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going,” Wes tried to explain, but the Wackelpudding was looking for a fight. It lashed out with a makeshift tentacle and nearly cut into Wes’s face. It tried again, but then the sharkman moved to block its attack.

“Leave him alone, Sigmar! He simply wishes to enjoy his pastry in peace,” he growled. The pudding made a few abortive beeps and hisses… then it was silent. Wes sighed in relief and made his way over to a table to wait for his order. He only had to wait about a minute before he got his coffee and pastry. Unfortunately, on the way back, another person walked into the Wackelpudding. Its second shriek shattered the windows. Wes dove under his table, miscalculated slightly, and hit his forehead. He blacked out for a second, and awoke to the sound of meaty punches burrowing into various flavors of flesh. He peeked out from under the table in an attempt to figure out what was going on, but dove back under when he saw the Wackelpudding pull out something that looked like a gun

And just then, gravity failed. Wes’s body lazily drifted off the ground. He could hear sirens in the distance – eerie, low pitched sirens with a strange guttural undertone to them.

“Sigmar the Conqueror! We have you surrounded! Come out with your hands up, or we will be forced to come into the premises!” shouted an unfamiliar voice.

This was bad. Wes was sure he had a concussion, and the last thing he needed on top of it was to get caught in the middle of a gun fight. As he lay there hoping the Wackelpudding wouldn’t get any dangerous ideas, he couldn’t help but wonder what that cruffin would’ve tasted like.

 

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Flash Fiction Month #3, Episode 1: Malicious Noncompliance

Flash Fiction Month is back… …again! I’m sticking with the last two years’ rules. Each month’s posts will be a self-contained story, most likely of about the usual 400-500 word length. I make no guarantees of subject, style, or anything else. You can read last year’s installments here.


Monday, 11:31 AM. I always like to clean the men’s restroom before the big lunch time rush. Can you imagine a horde of jocks stampeding the facilities, stumbling over themselves to get to the toilets before they become toilets, only to find that some hung over executive had a little too much hair of the dog and has filled a stall with his… well…

Okay, perhaps I should be honest with you. My challenges as a janitor in the Winnebago Building go above and beyond what my fellow travelers in the sanitation industry have to deal with. Still, I like the challenge – it keeps me busy and gives me an opportunity to exercise the power and responsibility my supplies give me. In that spirit, I head into the restroom to make everything shine… and the first thing I see is a clogged toilet disgorging filthy water all over the floor. Someone’s stuffed nearly half a roll of toilet paper into the bowl! I have a philosophy when it comes to using such quantities of paper – flush early, flush often, pay your penance when the water bill comes. You do not try to see how much the system can handle in one go.

This is, in fact, the fourth time this has happened in this cell this week. It’s not my duty to name and shame whoever’s abusing the fixtures, but I can at least hope to educate the people I serve. As part of my supplies, I keep a pen, paper, and some clear tape so I can leave messages as necessary. How does this one go again?

“Please stop flushing so much toilet paper in one go! If you need to use a lot of toilet paper, then flush multiple times in order to prevent the pipes from backing up. Thank you.”

I find appending pleasantries at the end usually improves compliance. Usually. There are some exceptions. I return to the men’s restroom the next day and open the door for the first round of morning cleaning, only to find a veritable wall of white rushing towards me-

It took me a second to put it together – this is toilet paper! A heck of a lot of it, too! A quantity of toilet paper so enormous that it’s buried me up to my knees and jammed the door open in the process. I look up to see a solid, impenetrable wall of thin tissues, except for a small indentation where it collapsed on me.

“Who did this?” I shout at the tissues. They are unmoved.

“What were they thinking?” They remain unmoved.

I figure I’m going to need my claw tool for this. Usually, it’s reserved for removing stray turds from the corners of toilet stalls, but for all I know some of that toilet paper could be smeared with unmentionable waste; best that I put a little distance between myself and the product just in case.

“What’s going on here?” says a voice to my side, just as I’m pulling on my gloves. Oh crap. It’s the building owner; he likes to patrol the halls at odd hours for whatever reason.

“Some monster filled the entire bathroom up to the ceiling with toilet paper, as far as I can tell! You’ve got to call the cops or something,” I respond. The building owner shakes his head and grimaces at me.

“I can’t get the cops involved on this! It’s probably just a prank. You’d better get this bathroom usable before everyone else gets here.” With that, he wanders off, as if this happens all the time. I can’t argue with him; I’ve got fifty, maybe a hundred bucks in my savings account? I spend easily that much a month on cleaning supplies!

Today is going to be a long day.

Flash Fiction Month #2, Episode 2: Mission Impossible

Another episode of the second season of Flash Fiction Month. Read the last installment here, and read the installments from the first Flash Fiction Month here.


Resolved: We should increase marshmallow consumption by at least thirteen percent. Anything more than twenty percent may result in a potentially undesirable chemical cascade.

Also resolved: The price of peanuts, and their corresponding paste and butter products is too damn high. We do not have other options, and the vendors understand this on the most intimate of levels. Regardless, we must increase peanut product consumption as well, although it may take several months to form a reasonable estimate.

There is one major logistical facility approximately 2 kilometers to the east that contains supplies of our required sustenance. It is heavily fortified – the entire facility is, in fact, encased in a foundation of reinforced bricks and concrete. Furthermore, it is surrounded by dangerous, rugged terrain full of rapidly moving obstacles, and also static barricades that can tear through even the thickest armor if we are not careful. The only factor in our favor is that this fortress is understaffed. While the building is heavily trafficked, the majority of its visitors are travelers from distant lands who seek to use its services, as opposed to defensive personnel. If we make our move at a time when the place is undermanned, then our chances of success are substantially increased.

To this end, we have requisitioned a special combat package from home base that will assuredly increase our combat effectiveness on this mission. Since heavy armor is most likely to be unnecessarily cumbersome and would provide insufficient protection against enemy fire or environmental hazards, the equipment included focuses on boosting mobility, firepower, and to a lesser extent, stealth capabilities. This is ideally going to be a quick smash and grab mission – get in quickly, disable all opposition, acquire the victuals, and get out, ideally before the place goes on full alarm. Of particular note is an experimental nerve gas dispenser that can incapacitate organic life forms in a fifty foot radius, although so far we have only managed to scrounge up a few canisters of ammunition.

We have forty hours to prepare. Best of luck, and pray to your various gods that you’ll survive.

8:26 PM, Shopping Pun Mart Superstore:

“One loaf of bread, one package of Jif peanut butter, one package of marshmallow fluff, a half gallon of milk, two pounds of bananas, and a package of breath mints. That will be $11.38.”

“I’ll pay with cash,” I responded, handing the cashier a twenty dollar bill, and getting my change, receipt, and a bag of groceries in return. I left the store without incident.

“Fucking price gouging stores. Do they think I’m made out of money?” I muttered under my breath. “Next time, I’m going to Market Basket.”