Flash Fiction Story 002: "Kibble"

When I started this project, I knew there were bound to be stories I wrote about which I didn't know how to feel. Why not use the second week of these posts to cut right into it? I wrote this one quickly a few years back, after CJ The Labradane passed away. I think I eventually wrote in a more emotionally healthy way about it later, but at the time, all I wanted was for her to put her paw on the door, asking to come back in from the back yard. Then, I realized if that ever did happen, then there would be something far more problematic going on.

Anyway, in the spirit of problematic goings on, I present "Kibble." Next week, I'll have something perhaps upbeat, or at the very least not alternately depressing and absurd.

 

    All that remained was the kibble. It was the only thing left to do. She'd have no need for the food before it spoiled. Had she the presence of mind, she might have donated her supply to the local humane society, but the thought never occurred to her.

    Popping the top off of the plastic tank, she poured the food into the trash can. He had always been finicky about the it. In a few short seconds, it would all be gone and life could return to--

    Thunk.

    She stopped pouring. A few pieces scattered onto the ground. The distant noise repeated. She finished emptying the container while trying to listen for its source. On its fourth repeat, she realized the noise had come from the front door. She moved to unlock it, all the while wondering why her visitor hadn't rung the doorbell.

    She swung the door open and promptly fell to her knees. Sitting pretty, the dog seemed more confused than anything else by the day's events. She rubbed behind his ears, forcing the white shock of hair above his eyes to arc in that same look of quiet contemplation that had connected them so thoroughly years before.

    How did this--?

    It must have all been a mistake. From the blood work through the big green pills that didn't do any damned good, all the way to the intentional overdose of anesthesia. Her dog had lived. Not only that, he had found his way home all on his own.

    Just as she thought to call the vet's office to try and make sense of all this, another sound echoed through the cul-de-sac. It sounded like rustling or scampering, but to the power of ten.

    Dozens of dogs rounded the corner and came galloping down the street. Another terrible noise threatened to overwhelm her. She looked to her left. In the backyard of the house catty corner to hers, something tried to crawl out of the ground. At that moment, all she could see were paws poking out of the grass.

    She looked back to the oncoming pack. One of the dogs had no head. Another had met some other manner of violent end, judging by the tire tracks across its mangled body. Another was nothing more than a bleached skeleton clacking down the sidewalk. 

    Her sudden rapid breathing echoed in her ears. That each animal turned into a different house along the street and didn't descend on her en masse didn't make her feel any better. She looked down at him. He started growling but never took his gaze away from her. The snarling didn't ease her anxiety, nor did his bared fangs.

    I'm going to need more kibble, she thought.

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Flash Fiction Story 001: "Second Bananas"

She clung to The Edge. Bono was fine. Everyone loved Bono, and rightly so. He fed the starving children, and got the credit for all of U2's songs, but God did she love The Edge. With The Edge, there was no need for a showy persona. The Edge's name was the only showy thing about him. The Edge marched his way through October and War with only a need to do his job. Bono had a desperate need to be part-John Lennon, part-P.T. Barnum. Bono needed to be loved; The Edge couldn't help but be admired.

As 1991 drew to a close, the perfect confluence of serendipity fell upon her. U2 might perform in Stockholm and Sarajevo, but they would also be coming to her little town of Rosemont. She didn't want tickets to the show; they were a necessity.

Tickets would go on sale January 1st for a March 31st show. She avoided the very idea of New Year’s Eve and rose in the morning, just as most people were returning from their ill-advised jaunts to the Windy City. She would be the first in line for tickets.

She may have been the single greatest fan The Edge would ever know, but she underestimated the fans of Bono. When she arrived at the amphitheater, the line for tickets spread beyond the horizon. The air was somehow colder than when she left home at 5:15 that morning. It made the air thin, more like the vacuum of space than anything she had breathed before.

She managed to calm herself as she joined the ticket line. She became encouraged when the line moved steadily. One day soon she would be in the presence of The Edge. All was well.

Then the line in front of her dwindled and dispersed. Her heart sank as she suddenly became the front of the line, but was still a half-mile away from the box office. As they scattered, the people in front of her muttered words like "sold" and "out."

She stood in place for several minutes, long after those in front of and behind her had moved on with the rest of their lives, hoping that there had been some sort of mistake and U2 would add a second show or a missing block of tickets would appear, but those miracles never came. There would be no concert for her. Without The Edge, her life would be over.

The winter passed and the weather warmed. On the last evening in March, she was at work, scanning a copy of Achtung Baby and sacking it for an oblivious customer. She idly noted the beginning of the concert that had so destroyed her a few months ago. She wasn't in the front row, or anywhere near the Edge. She was stuck at Target.

It was just another Sunday night in Rosemont. She had Tom Petty tickets for July, but she absolutely clung to The Heartbreakers.

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That’s me! Thanks to Eris O’Reilly for the art! 

What's this all about, then?

This entry appeared on my other blog, here. Take a look, why don't you?

Here I go...

Here I go...

At the beginning of 2017, I took a moment to consider how much I had written in this space in 2016. It turns out I had written 45,000 words here, with topics ranging from how much I wanted Michael Keaton to play Batman again, all the way to how much I’m going to have to insist Michael Keaton plays Batman again. 

While it seemed like the articles I’ve posted in the blog would never amount to any sort of actual printable volume, it made sense to continue typing away. It’s brought eyes to the site, and probably eyes to my other work. This is all to the good. We even managed to get Danny Elfman’s Batman theme into this year’s Justice League. It’s almost like I really made a difference…

Ahem.

But now, with 2017’s blog entries added into the equation, I’ve written nearly 80,000 words here. Like I noted above, it’s time well spent, but I can’t help but wonder:

All that time here could have been spent putting together another novel. Or maybe another season or two of The Fourth Wall. I could have learned how to play guitar, or speak Farsi. 

So—the question remains—what do I do now?

I’ve blogged every week for two years. That’s no longer a challenge. Well, in truth, it’s becoming an increasingly bigger challenge, mainly because it’s something I’ve already done.

I need to be putting material out there on the regular, but I also need to try something new. If that something new makes me look just a little bit crazy in the attempt, then so much the better.

Which gave me an idea. It's probably a horrible idea, but those are my favorite kind.

I’m not terribly great at short fiction. I mean, I dabble, but I haven’t made it a big part of my work. So, what if, instead of blogging in the traditional sense, I tried to write one flash fiction story a week?

It’s manageable. It’s also liable to drive me crazy in the pursuit. And, if I write 500 words of fiction every week for two years, why… that would leave me with 52,000 words of material. Maybe I can make a book out of them!

I’ll admit, 104 individual stories will be a lot of feeding the beast. Some of them may be ho-hum. Many of them might be out-and-out dreadful. I’m okay with that, mainly because the law of averages dictates some of them—maybe even just a few—will be quite readable. The prospect of writing those stories excites me a great deal.

So, it’s happening. Starting this week, I’m beginning a whole new blog here on the site. Its title: “IF A STORY IN THIS BLOG GOES OVER 500 WORDS, THIS WHOLE WEBSITE WILL EXPLODE.”

It’s a little wordy, sure. A blog of flash fiction with an overly wordy title. It’s ironic. I’m okay with that.

Initially, I’ll burn through all of the flash fiction I’ve already written up until this point. When those two stories are run, I’ll move on to material I’ve created exclusively for the new blog. It’ll be fun. I think it’ll be fun.

I’ll still check in here, but far less frequently than I have since the dawn of 2016. I’m thinking once per month. It might be more frequently than that, but it may also be rarer. It’s going to sort of depend on my mood. 

This week, we begin with one of the first flash fiction pieces I ever wrote. It’s a bit of a departure for me, if for no other reason than it doesn’t feature either Orson Welles or Time Travel, but it’s a nice little nugget of something. I'll also be making some other, more far reaching changes to the site. Be on the lookout for those.

So, dear reader, click ahead. My first story is called “Second Bananas.”