Thursday, December 26, 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge - Part 5

This is the final edition of the five-part challenge to add 200 words to someone else' story.  I skipped a part or two; apologies…  My addition is at the very end.

Part 1: Josee De Angelis

Of course it would rain today. It couldn’t be nice and sunny. Perfectly crappy weather for a crappy day. Shane dragged her luggage down the hall, her box of books under her arm, all her hats on her head – good thing the rain hat was the last one she found. What she couldn’t fit in her suitcases she wore. The furniture would have to come later. She couldn’t stand to be in that apartment one minute more.

The rain was coming down hard when Shane opened the front door. It was very dark, as if the clouds decided to play with people’s minds and make it look like nighttime. This did nothing to lighten Shane’s mood. Where would she go? Where could she go? Not going to her parents’ home, that’s for sure. Her sister’s? Only if she wanted all her past choices to be dissected, analyzed and declared wrong. They were wrong, but did she really need to hear it from someone else? Not so much.

Shane decided to walk north to put as much space as she could between herself and the apartment, where she lived moderately happy for six years. That was before everything changed. Before yesterday.

Part 2: Liz Neering

Yesterday the shadow had appeared. It began as a black spot, hidden away in the corner. But as the day progressed it had bled like spilled ink into the bulk of the room, until by the time she had gone to bed, it had stretched its dark fingers across the bulk of the apartment. She had slept huddled on the sofa, her knees drawn up to her chest, her hands wrapped around her shins to keep her tightly coiled and far away from the blackness coming to claim her.

They would never understand. They would never believe.

Shane pulled her hats down further, tugging them down her forehead until their stacked brims concealed her downcast, black-rimmed eyes. She stopped in the street. Water poured down her hats, splattering fat droplets onto her shoes. She rubbed her eyes until they burned.

“Think,” she said. “Think.”

She felt something; the short hairs on the nape of her neck rose. She turned on her heel.

The blackness was there. It crept towards her, sentient, hungry, writhing like a serpent as it slunk closer. A voice, oily and thick, cut through the air.

“Shane,” it hissed. “Come to us. Be one with us. We understand. We do not judge.”

Part 3: Ken Crump

That voice, she thought, I know that voice!

Slowly the pieces began to fall into place. Shane spun on her heel, gathered her box of books tightly under her arm and strode toward the Cup of Comfort coffee shop at the north end of the block. Her suitcase rolled smoothly through the gathering puddles, making rhythmic “sslack” sounds as it jumped the sidewalk cracks. Halfway there, a wheel caught in a crack, broke off, and rolled into the street. The suitcase reeled and twisted out of her control. Shane stole a look over her shoulder at the suitcase and then back toward the blackness. It still crept toward her. What had she read about the blackness? She squeezed her books closer to her body, and abandoning the suitcase, she walked on.

That box of books was one of her past choices her sister would undoubtedly dissect and analyze again, given the chance. “You paid how much for those?” she had demanded in that I-know-everything voice that only big sisters have. “They’re so old the covers are all bubbly.”

“The covers are not bubbly,” Shane spat. “They’re anthropodermic!” And she immediately wished she could have unsaid it. Her big sister didn’t need to know the books were bound in human skin.

Part 4:  Josh Lumis

“Can I get you something?”

Shane blinked. The barista was looking at her pleasantly. For now. When Shane blinked, something else that wasn’t a barista was smiling at her. It was a smile she had seen before, in the shadows, a dark smiling face with eyes like bruning coals and teeth made of knives. Shane blinked again, and saw more of them. She squeezed her eyes shut and willed herself not to think about the books or the words penned in blood or the macabre images…

“Miss? Are you all right?”

She opened her eyes. She was back in Cup of Comfort. The barista looked more concerned than anything, and Shane tried to smile. It was difficult as the shadows got longer out of the corner of her eye.

“Yes. I’m sorry. I was thinking about my sister. Could I get a cup of coffee, please?”

“Sure.” The barista set about making the drink. “Are you in town to visit your sister?”

Shane swallowed. Her only hope was that, with a few customers in the shop, the darkness would be held at bay, at least for now. She needed time she didn’t have.

“No.” Shane bit her lip. “She’s dead now.”

My addition
"I'll have a double red-eye," she told the young man.

He nodded and winked.  Who winks anymore, she thought, waiting for him to do his coffee-jerk thing.
"Hot now," he told her when he was done.  "Might want to let it cool," again with a wink.

She paid him and turned to find a table.  Juggling her burdens, she stooped to set the box of books at her feet.  When she straightened, Shane saw a ganglia-shaped curl had slopped onto the saucer, only the spilled coffee wasn't behaving like a fluid.  Its shape was that of the innards of a tar-snail, curled and retaining definite surface tension.
Steam, like a morning fog lifted from the mug carrying the odor of something fetid.  Shane gagged and pushed the cup from her.  When she did, the little blob leapt onto her wrist and the steam poured forth to cover the rest of her hand and forearm.
Shane swore then and stood.  Her chair scooted loudly behind her.
"Can't even carry a cup of coffee without spilling it," her sister said.

The barista turned.  The young woman was gone.  She'd left her box of books.  Most were older.  Odd covers too, he thought.