This week's challenge from Terrible Minds was another random pick.
You’ve got Subgenre / Conflict / Element to Include.
Pick one from each category either randomly or by your own hand (though randomly is the most fun), then write a flash fiction short story no longer than 1000 words. Post at your online space, link back to it in the comments here, and voila. Easy-peasy, George-and-Weezy.
|Subgenre||Conflict||Element to Include|
1. Men’s Adventure
4. Southern Gothic
5. Comic Fantasy
9. Weird West
10. Wild West
14. Magic Realism
15. Spy Thriller
16. Black Comedy
17. Alien Invasion
18. Time Travel
19. Twisted Fairy Tale
2. Sentient Supercomputer
3. Sea Monster
4. Plane (or Spaceship) Crash
5. A Dead Body
6. A Summoning Ritual
7. A Hallucination
8. Flying Monkeys
9. A Hologram
10. The Devil
11. A Dirty Magazine
12. An Ancient Sword
13. The Restless Dead
14. A Gourmet Meal
15. A Severed Hand
16. Poisonous Snakes
17. A Black Hole
18. Some Manner Of Werecreature/Shapeshifter
19. A Talking Tree
- Southern Gothic
- The Restless Dead
I'd partied the night before downtown, cruising the Halloween parties in the Savannah nightclubs in my vampire costume. I was tall, young, in good shape, and always managed to charm the ladies it seemed, so the gory makeup, my deep voice, and a black cape just added to the picture. There'd been lots of college kids out looking to party, the guys off in a corner playing pool and drinking beer, their girlfriends gathered at the bar, all dressed to impress. Dressed in variations on slutty - nurses, babysitters, cheerleaders - all willing to giggle at my lines and let me nibble their neck, holding my arm as they pretended to swoon. All harmless fun, part of a game we played.
All except one. She seemed their age, yet older somehow, and not as easy to catch. Slim, much shorter than me, with red hair and pale skin. Her costume was not the same stereotype as the others, it was less revealing yet more intriguing. I kept seeing her in different bars, sometimes brushing past me for a moment, sometimes on the other side of a crowd, just watching people for a few minutes, then vanishing again. When I finally did corner her, or she me, she pulled my face down for a hard bruising kiss, then was gone. I felt my lip - damn, she'd bit me. It wasn't until I ordered another Bloody Mary that I found the invitation, tucked in next to my wallet. It was a simple rectangle, gilt edged, off white with just a hint of pink. The writing was in a beautiful Gothic script, with the address, and the words "Post Halloween Party. For those that still need a little more. BYOB (Whatever Type You Prefer) November 1, 6 pm". Down in the corner, in red ink, was a single initial, 'V'.
I didn't get up until noon the next day, still feeling half dead, but after a hot shower, breakfast and a lot of black coffee I came back to life. I picked up a nice bottle of Burgundy and by 5 pm was flagging down a cab.
It was a long ride, out to an old forgotten corner of the city, under old trees draped in Spanish moss, past sad abandoned houses. The day had been grey and cold, and as we left the city the clouds darkened and a light drizzle started to mist the windshield. The cab driver stopped finally, and pointed up a side street.
"Just up there," he said. "Sorry, I won't go any further, too dangerous. "
I offered to pay extra but he just shook his head and fondled a small cross at his neck.
“Go, and may the Lord watch over you.”
As I walked up to the main gate I checked the address again. The place looked abandoned, with the yard overgrown, paint peeling, shutters crooked, shingles missing. The gate posts were topped by what looked like shapeless lumps of stone, yet as I got closer I imagined features in them, like two little gargoyles staring out at me. I was wishing I'd asked the cab to wait. The gate was not closed all the way, and there seemed to be a foot path through the weeds and towards the house. Maybe there was another place on the property.
I squeezed through the gate. I had the feeling I was being watched, but as I looked back all I saw was the ugly faces of the two gargoyles. I hurried my pace, and as I got closer to the house started to notice remnants of a party. Empty bottles, cigarette butts, a red shoe, a scarf caught on branch, a matching foot for the shoe. I peered again at the foot and decided it was a fake one, from a mannequin, but it still gave me a shiver. Strangely enough, the closer I got to the house, the less run down it looked – the paint a little fresher, shutters straight, weeds gone, even a green tint to the bushes. I could even see lights through the shutters, and hear the thump of music from somewhere inside.
I was about to knock on the door when it was opened by a tall pale man, all dressed in black.
“Velcome,” he said. “Please, do come in.”
I shook his extended hand, briefly. His grip, while firm, was cold and clammy. I stepped into the foyer – bright with the light from a chandelier, doors on either side, a long sweeping staircase curving up from the middle. Not the look of an abandoned house. I turned and handed over my coat, and winced as my host slammed the door hard enough to rattle the windows.
“Ah, there you are.”
I looked back at the stairway. Posed casually a the bottom was my mysterious friend from last night, pale, beautiful, sexy, showing a bit of leg, a bit of a smile.
“Hello. V is it?” I said. "We never really met, I'm Greg."
“I see you met Lurch,” she said. “One of the original tenants, he likes to help out. How is your lip – still bruised?”
She touched a cool finger to my lip. “There, all better. Oh, you brought wine, how nice. And a Burgundy, such a deep rich colour.” She ran a delicate pink tongue over her lips then smiled and grabbed my arm. “Come, darling, my friends are dying to meet you.”
She pulled the doors open and swept me with her into the crowd. Her friends were a peculiar mix of old and young, all beautifully dressed, many with V's charming European accent, yet I recognized no one from any of the city's clubs. Waiters and waitresses drifted through the crowd like waifs, carrying trays of drinks and finger foods, all of them with the same pasty pale look as Lurch.
“Where did you hire these people,” I asked.
V laughed. “They came with the house when we took it over. They have their own rooms.” She waved vaguely, toward the basement I thought. “They're usually quiet and keep to themselves but have been restless lately. Maybe it's the excitement of having new people in the house. I invited them to join us, as long as they helped out.”
She looked around. “There do seem to be a lot of them.” As I sipped my drink I glanced through the open patio doors, into the back garden, and noticed it was dead and overgrown. I turned and peered through the front window, past a sagging shutter. Same dead looking yard I'd seen from the gate.
“Darling, if you must stare, please stare at me,” she said.
“Sorry, I could swear it was all green as I walked up,” I said.
“It's the evening light,” she said. “Come, meet another friend.” She pulled me over towards a tall man, back turned to us, a cape covering his wide shoulders. As he turned to greet us I noticed a trickle of blood at the corner of his lip. V quickly reached up with a napkin, and dabbed at it. “Sweetie, your idea of rare steak is raw. Really. Viktor, this is my new friend that I told you about.”
He smiled and bowed slightly as he shook my hand. “Always glad to meet a friend of Vika's.”
He turned to her. “My dear, don't you think we have a few too many waiters and waitresses?”
I was about to agree when there was a bang from the back of the room as the patio doors slammed shut. At the same time, the shutters over all the windows closed, and Lurch stepped in from the foyer, closing the doors behind them. The wait staff had put their trays down, and looked even paler than before, pale with a greenish tinge, smiling mouths revealing yellowed and broken teeth.
“This is not good,” said Vika.
“Wait, can't you and your people just use your special powers to fight them?” I asked. “Aren't you all—”
“What special powers?” said Viktor. “We're all just Russians.”