#13WeeksOfHorror Black Cats

“Do it, ya fuckin’ pussy.”

“Yeah, come on already.”

“Dooo it. Dooo it. Dooo it.”

The crowd of kids gathered close around. Well, close enough to see the show and still avoid any gore if things went bad.

Tom stood in the middle of the circle of anxious kids. He gripped a sheet of mini-explosives in one hand, polished steel Zippo in the other. He didn’t smoke, but always carried the lighter. Not a pyro, per se, Tom like to have options. And if any of those options included setting something on fire, so be it.

Even still, this stunt was above his usual level of stupidity.

He flipped the lighter open with his thumb, flipped it back with his index finger. The steady clack of the lid relaxed him. These weren’t cherry bombs or M-80s for Christ sake, just a few firecrackers. But still…

Why did I take this stupid bet again?

Toward the back of the group a pair of blueish, blue eyes watched Tom’s every move. He wished he could come up with a better name for those eyes, but Tom was neither poet nor romantic. Tom was a daredevil. Years of excellent stories revealed themselves in scars along his body like a road map to glory. Pain is but a moment, right? He’d heard that somewhere.

“Yeeaaarrghh,” Tom shouted as he thrust both arms in the air.

The crowed took a cumulative step closer. Two dozen phones held out at the ready, a generation of electronic third eyes ready to capture the moment. Tom flicked the lid back and struck the wheel. Flame danced on the tip of the lighter. Those eyes, those blues eyes grew wide as he touched the fire to the wick of the Black Cats. He thought it was a look of nervous excitement. That’s when he noticed how they glistened. They shone with all the sorrow of the blue flame that blew this bridge to pieces.

Too late to turn back now. The whole school would see the videos.

She never cried for him, just hung her head and walked away as he exploded his way to a glory more lonely. But at least he would always have the last look of those blueish blue eyes to keep him company, even when the flash of local fame dissolved like the smoke in the aftermath.

Flash fiction with Danielle Shipley

So I asked for anyone to write a story and Danielle Shipley was the first up to the plate. We wrote this story back and forth, one paragraph at a time, with no per-planning or outlining of any kind. It’s always fun to work with another author like this and if anyone out there wants to do another one just let me know. It could also be fun if we got a group to write a quick story like this. Four or five authors with two, maybe three paragraphs each. Be a bestseller before the sun went down over Spokane. That’s a saying, right? Anyway, enough blabbering, here’s the story:

 

(DS) The last time it snowed on this house, the drifts piled in the yard so high that the only colors to be seen were the tips of the garden gnomes’ hats. All else were shades of white and gray. The bottom steps of the porch lay buried in heavy fluff, the top steps glazed in ice. The spears of frozen water jutting down from the overhanging roof were to blame for that glittering death trap. They dripped like a slavering monster’s row of fangs. The mailman wasn’t about to brave all of that. Through rain and sleet and snow and hail, sure, but his code of honor didn’t say anything about walking into the jaws of an ice beast and slipping to his frozen doom. Why couldn’t this place have its mailbox standing at the foot of the drive, like every other house on the street?

 

(AN) “Holy icicle deathtrap, Batman,” he muttered under his breath. He crept up the slick steps without incident. On the porch the path became less treacherous and the mailman relaxed. He opened the flap covering the mail-slot in the door and sucked in a quick breath at what he saw on the other side.

 

(DS) “Thank goodness you’ve come,” the elderly woman gasped from the floor. “I was on my way out to clear the steps for you, but the darn cat got underfoot, and… well, you can see where that’s landed me.” Her eyes pleaded with him through the mail-slot. “By the way… you don’t happen to have a little something in an ominous black envelope for me, do you?”

 

(AN) Mailman reached in his satchel, pulled out a large black package with no markings. No address. No postage. Nothing. He silently wondered how it even got in his bag, but decided not to question. He held the package up for the old woman. She nodded that it was, in fact, her package. He held the package, obviously too big to fit, up to the mail-slot and pushed. Somehow, the package fit and the slot in the door swallowed his arm up to the shoulder.

 

(DS) “Lovely, lovely,” the old woman murmured, drawing the package from its deliverer’s grasp. “And it’s arrived none too soon. Erm…” She glanced at him through the mail slot, her thin, wrinkled lips pursed and a guarded look in her eye. “Pardon a senior citizen her idiosyncrasies, dear, but I would prefer to open this in private. Might I have a moment? If you’d like to make yourself useful while you wait, you could go round to the driveway and clear my vehicle of snow. Quickly, please,” she said sharply, indicating it was less a request, more a command.

 

(AN) Mailman stared at the old woman for along moment, stunned by her directness. He turned around and carefully stepped down from the porch. A solid sheet of snow and ice that used to be the driveway greeted him at the bottom. No car occupied the driveway, but the handle of a broom stuck up from the snow in the middle. Mailman treaded over to the rickety old broom and pulled it from the snow. With a shrug he started sweeping away to top layer of snow. The old woman stomped out from the house with a surprising amount of spunk for a woman of her age. She ripped the broom from his grasp, muttered something that sounded like “fool”, and threw a leg over the broom. Without another word she took off in to the sky.

 

(DS) Mailman blinked after the woman on the broomstick open-mouthed, a fresh fall of fluffy snowflakes landing on his tongue with an ease they never did whenever he actually tried to catch them. He turned to look back at the house, a puzzled frown between his brows. What happened to the lady’s broken hip routine? Maybe there was far more to that black package than he knew. But that was a mystery for another time. Mailman readjusted his grip on the bag slung over his shoulder and continued to make his way down slushy sidewalk. These bills, circulars, and postcards from sunny Florida won’t deliver themselves.

 

The End! (…or WAS IT?!)