Category Archives: Flash Fiction

Nomads in the Village

Generations of laughs and loss. A brilliant surgeon, a broken actor, a retired dancer, a protestor in search of direction, a carpenter in search of a flock, great moms, new daughters, reluctant dads, a fourth son, and a litter of grandchildren.

My mother-in-law lays sleeping on a twin sized bed, happily crowded out by her grand-daughter. She seems content to doze on the sliver of real estate she’s been leased.

Quietly I close the door so my morning prep for work won’t disturb her.

Our days are so much easier when the grand-parents are around.

Autonomy and the nuclear family seem post-apocalyptic now.

Pack up your bags I say. Move back to the Village.

Jimmie G


Daily Post: Mind Reader

 

The Middle Aged Bed Wetter

In his dream he was hot tubing with Carol from accounting, the water wrapped around them both like frothy, warm blankets. Suddenly the water ran cold and itchy like icy wool. Scott woke to the realization he had just pissed himself. With the exception of a few legendary nights in undergrad, Scott hadn’t pissed himself since he was a kid.

Scott had regressed in a great many ways since finding his wife in bed with his business partner. Scott was lamenting the ruin of his lesbian fantasies when he noticed he was wearing spiderman pajamas.

What the…what did I do last night? Why do my legs look so short?

A wave of disorientation came over him as he stood from the bed.

Is this my…why am I…parents…why is my dresser so big?

Scott’s breath rattled in his throat, wet and heavy. His old NFL bedding was bright and new. A Pre-reboot Battlestar Galactica Viper Launch Station, complete with choking hazard, launch-able Viper. Scott’s eyes tickled with the expectation of what be buried under a pillow on his bed.

His hand lifted one of several pillows and his heart exploded nostalgia, and sci-fi exuberance, and kind of “I wish I hadn’t dismissed the possibility of a God, because this is some time-shifting craziness” type of fear.

There it was. The newest, most awesome toy any three year old boy could own in 1974. J.I. Joe with Kung Fu Grip.

He grabbed the toy. Real or not he wanted to play with the action figure again. There was one last test to confirm he had gone bat shit crazy.

The walk to the bathroom was a long ten steps. The wooden step stool was at the base of the sink just as like when he was a kid. The Mexican tile he thought outdated and garish seemed fresh and daring.

Scott slowly opened his eyes and was met by a young boy he knew only from pictures. He spit expletives at the mirror but it was no use. All he could see was 1974. He had broken his mind somehow.

His mother barged in suddenly. None to pleased at the language she heard he three year old son using.

She was magnificent. Vibrant, young, beautiful, and alive. She wouldn’t die for seven more years.

Scott didn’t know what would happen if he screwed with the her timeline. Would he blow up the world if he stopped his mom from getting in the car on April 12, 1981? He sure as shit was going to find out.

The smile he wore stole away all her anger and she gave him a big hug. It was the happiest moment the three year old had felt in forty-three years.

Jimmie G.

 

 

The Gruber

A Gruber is a fell and foul creature, covered in boils that explode into puffs of yellow farts when popped.

A Gruber’s eyes are covered in scales so it to see only what it wants to see, and its ears are stuffed full of nettles so it does’t have to be bothered with what others have to say.

A Gruber has hot coals attached to its feet so its always hopping about impatiently.

Gruber’s have fierce claws and thick arms covered in spikes, which makes them  ill suited to warm hugs.

Gruber’s are always complaining but their hoarse voices come out in clouds of mumbles.

Which is for the best as Grubers never have anything nice to say. Nor are their words in response to anything you may have said, but rather, they are dead retorts to arguments hatched long ago.

A Gruber is not without hope, there is a magic kiss for every toad.

A Gruber has one too, of sorts. Though you needn’t brush your lips against its slimy, disgusting skin.

That magic kiss as it were, that can wash away the Gruber’s ugliness to reveal something beautiful is a simple incantation. Two words that dull the edge of broken glass.

I’m sorry.

This simple spell can undo so much. The magic of these small words is more powerful still when fault is not so clearly defined.

Grubers are everywhere.

Mirrors are their favorite places to hide.

Jimmie G.


An “I’m sorry” to my daughters for sometimes being a big a-hole.

WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Flash Fiction

 

Stacking Tomorrows

William Patterson had been stacking his tomorrows for as long as he could remember. He had composed letters, stories, thank you’s and rebuttals, in his head. There they sat undelivered. William stacked high boxes of chores,  left honey do lists to yellow and curl on clip boards. The clip boards hung on the walls like in perfect columns like soldiers. And dreams, thousands of dreams stored away upon row after row of in an Amazon sized warehouse of “I’ll do it laters”. 

William traveled through his warehouse always distracted by tomorrow, and therefore tripping over his todays.  Being present seemed such an annoyance, a catch phrase getting in the way of his better tomorrow.

So William clung to words and phrases like when, I just, if I could, to help him ignore where he was. That allowed him to forget that just, is an action that begins with a single step, and If, is a fulcrum on which pivots doing and not-doing. Action and inaction. Hope and fear.

And so William stacks his tomorrows, unable to remember his today because he never looks at it. But one day a present moment will arrive that will deny William any possibility of a tomorrow,  and then he will weep at all the todays he stacked away.

Jimmie G

 

Terminal Green

Gabe checked the clock again. Only fifteen seconds had past. Work days usually flew by for Gabe. He loved the mundane normalcy of 9-5, Monday-Friday. Today was quieter than most, like Christmas on a weekday. Everyone but Gabe had gone to the memorial. That would be a change to his routine, and he didn’t handle change well. Gabe liked the cozy blanket of predictability. But today Gabe had a chill he couldn’t shake.

The blue pills will chase away the chill of anxiety. But those would have to wait until he got home. Blue home, pink work. The pink would have to do for now.

Five o’clock finally arrived like an old man using a walker. Gabe popped another pinkie and started his sign out. Don’t sign out properly and get a call from Charles. Gabe had never received a call from Charles, and never wanted to.

As the screen went black Gabe swiveled his chair around to exit his cubicle.

Beep. The computer was powering back up. Gabe swiveled around. The terminal screen was up. In the middle of the screen blinked a green, pixilated cursor. Gabe saw his perplexed expression mirrored in the screen.

Gabe was about to execute the three key Force Quit combo when the cursor blinked out five characters.

HELP!

Gabe hit the Force Quit combo several times. Gently at first, then more forcibly. The cursor blinked out another cry for HELP Gabe struck the keys. Frustrated, he held the power button down. Charles may well be calling me tonight. The cursor refused to go away. It stubbornly blinked out H-E-L-P-!

Gabe popped a few more pinkies and bent under his desk, searching through the coiled, slithering cables, for the beasts head. Charles will definitely be calling. Fuck it. He choked the cable before ripping it out of the socket. H-E-L-P-! was sucked into a flash of light, screaming, then disappeared. Gabe had heard that scream before.

A couple more pinkies. 

Gabe stood from his chair to look over the empty cubicles. His eyes landed on Shelley’s chair and stayed there a while. Then he heard a beep. Then another, and another, and another, until every computer in the office had joined in a chorus of deafening beeps.

The glow of a hundred green, blinking cursors, combed through every hair on his body. Over and over, every computer blinked out the word HELP!  Racing toward the end of each line until every screen was full of the word. The word then began scrolling an pulsing. Beating on his heart until it cracked open. Picking at the scabs of his guilt so his confession ran like blood from his fingertips.

When Gabe’s office mates came in Monday morning it was not the word HELP they found looping on every screen. What they did find were two empty bottles of pinks and blue. Fifteen messages from his parole officer, and a single sentence looping over and over.

Please forgive me Shelley. 

Line Jumper

Capital Investments…reduced…8%. Doug couldn’t go through the presentation again. He was feeling his way through the talking points now. Radio turned off, whit knuckling his way down the West Seattle Bridge and feeling his way through the most important presentation of his life.

I’m screwed. 8% isn’t enough. Not for Mr. Gromitz. 

The line of cars on the bridge trying to exit onto I5 north was always long and today was even longer. Just as Doug reached the the maw of the onramp he saw a car trying to line jump in his rear view mirror. Effing line jumper. Wait your turn a-hole. Just like everyone else. 

Doug pumped the brakes to stay close to the car in front of him. This dance continued for a few steps as the line jumper cruised, looking for a weak spot. Pump. Pump.  Trying to hold the chain taut. But this a-hole was persistent. He rolled up with his two seater, small dick, tinted window Benzo, and started honking at Doug! As if Doug were the a-hole for waiting in line like EVERYBODY ELSE! Doug screamed, in his head.

Doug pumped his gas trying to close the gap one last time before heading into the maw but a-hole Benzo guy rolled up and forced his way in, hitting the side of Doug’s Cindy Lauper era Honda, and pining his own car against the guard rail.

Oh this mother effer! MOTHER EFFER! Doug sprung from his car mid expletive. “You couldn’t wait in line like everybody else could you”, he admonished the man through dark glass.  Doug continued, “think because you have a Mercedes Benz you can do whatever the ‘f’ you want? Huh? You stupid jerk face! Roll down your window and face me jerk man. Stupid line jumping jerk man!”. Doug continued to hurl ineffectual curses. He did not have a “potty mouth” as he would say, and therefore found it difficult to express the deep anger he often felt.

Seeing his reflection in the window helped Doug to see the folly in rejecting the mother of all expletives.  His two middle fingers shot up into he air as ominously as the Fat Man and Little Boy fell down to earth, and riding torrents of miss-timed comebacks his very first F-bomb exploded on the a-hole in the red Benzo’s window.

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck”, reverberated off the window.  Doug’s protracted “Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!” seemed to go on for years until the brick wall of Mr. Gromitz’s eyes crushed the hanging ‘U’ like a dummy without a seatbelt.

That’s when Doug said “Fuck” for the second time in his life. Followed by “me”.

Jimmie G.

Writer’s Digest Weekly Writing Challenge.

The Confrontation 

Daydreaming on your way to work, you get into a car accident. Frustrated because you will be late for an important meeting, you curse and yell as you get out of the car. When you go to confront the other drive, you find out it is your boss. Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer)

A King, four presidents, and a fish.

“I hate to bother you, but I have something important to ask.” The lilt of his accent was hypnotic. He seemed trustworthy and roguish, strange in a very familiar way.

I was like scared, and kinda shaking, and all “what the fuck?!”, but I didn’t say any of that. Instead I just said “sure?”.

The man asked his question in a whisper. I could sense his hurry. He put his hands on my shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes and asked, “How can you hold a king, four presidents, and a leaping fish in the palm your hand? You will have thirty seconds to answer”, he added. My hair stood on end, thirty seconds. There was danger on his words. He turned to look at something only he could see. “Your time starts now”, he said.

“Well” I said absent-mindedly. My hands dove into my pant pockets and began fiddling with change. In the palm of your hand. 

My mind fragmented in a thousand directions but at the center were the hands of clock ticking. Not being right sat in the pit of my stomaching blowing cold wind into my lungs.

The world fell away from view and thats when the answer came to me. Not in a thought, but a memory.

I remembered crystal blue waters and humid air that warmed my nostrils, faces on the side of a mountain, and the smell of thousands of fish.

When the world came back in view my arm was stretched before me. In my open palm lay three quarters.  One from Hawaii, with King Kamehameha on the back. The faces of four presidents lay on the back the other. The third coin depicted a salmon leaping from the Washington Sound.

The man smiled. “Only three seconds. Thats the best time ever” Three seconds.  Impossible. I went to those places, and a thousand others too. 

He simply smiled again and led me out of the cafe. Just in front was a black taxi cab, the kind that litter London. “Deposit your quarters in the meter. Be quick about. They’ll be here in any second” he warned.

I dropped the quarters in the meter and the world fell away again. Three men, dressed in black suits were yelling “halt” and racing toward us. We jumped in the cab and threw the meter up and the next thing we were in London.

“Well”, said the man with the funny accent,  “this is my stop. Been sometime since I’v been home. Want to have a go with the Taxi?” Again my response was “sure”, but with conviction this time.

“Right then. When you want want to go home just come back here, before August 14, 1946. Thats when I die”.

“Will do” I said, “hey, whats your name?” His smile made the hair on his lip dance a bit, “Herbert” he said, “but my friends call me H.G.”.

And that is how I became the proud owner of a time machine.

Jimmie G.

In response to the Writer’s Digest Weekly Writing Prompt; When a stranger taps you on the shoulder.  (500 words or less)

Continue reading A King, four presidents, and a fish.

01

Anyone can do magic nowadays. You just have to take the time to learn the spells, and have enough money to actually buy one. The menial spells are affordable if not dull. Sure there are subsidized spells and Groupons, but if you want to get serious you need some serious cash.  Its gotten so bad a person is likely to sit on the couch trying and retrying a summoning spell rather than walk the five feet to pick up the remote.

You can do all kinds of powerful stuff with magic if you have enough funds and talent, but there’s something more powerful than any shade of magi c. Bureaucracy! There isn’t a spell thats been written yet that can make that go away. Trust me,  ever since that little black box was opened and magic came back into the world, I’ve seen them all.

Its what I did. Bureaucracy was my thing. I loved it. I worked at the Office of Spell Construction and Regulations, OSCR for short. You pronounce it just like the award. Acronyms are the second language for us Bureaucrats.

The OSCR is but one department in the massive complex known as M1, which is short for the already short title, Magic One. M1 doesn’t look magical at all, especially for a place entirely dedicated to magic. Its a massive white rectangle, with no windows, four floors and 3700 human employee, and more than six thousand Sentient Electronic Devices. Which are of course called SEDs.

On each the four massive office floors sit hundreds of Personal Office Pods, POPS. Mmmm. Acronyms are like warm cake. There is nothing Harry Potter about M1. Its more like a Terry Gilliam film really. The place is littered with outdated pieces of technology masquerading as state-of-the-art.

Its the magic you see. Everything is repurposed. Instead of filling up landfills with old or broken electronics, they’re just dusted with a magic spell to do all kinds of cool shit.

That’s how I came to be. I am an Osborne 1, a “portable” lap top. I use the quotation marks because I weigh in at a whopping 23 pounds.  I have a five inch display screen and single sided floppy drive.  My computing power is less than what you get from a Happy Meal toy. But I was magically repurposed, thats the green shade of magic. I can instantly detect irregularities, illegal phrasings, and infractions in any spell, no matter how the long. Also, I’m a SEDs. My partner for the past seventeen years calls me Osborne. I would prefer Ozzy but Darren is not the nickname type of guy.

Darren is efficient, kind, thoughtful, and an utter bore. He’s had the same routine everyday for seventeen years.  He shows up at the office no later than seven in the morning and doesn’t leave for home until its dark outside. He does this so as not to feel guilty about getting into his ‘bed pants’ as soon as he gets home and going to bed. On weekends he takes me home so he can continue working. A routine designed to keep life just out of reach. Everyday, week after week, month after month, for seventeen years the same routine.

Until just before Halloween of 2014. That morning Darren found a cookie waiting for him. A delicious double chocolate chip cookie.  Darren, whom as I have mentioned is an utter bore, is also a voracious sugar junkie.

Stiff necked, Darren’s eyes darted back and forth as if he might find who left the cookie among the stacks of spells. Then, like a six foot prairie dog, Darren stood to scan the sea of POPS. He slumped back into his chair and quite suddenly attacked the cookie, taking it down in a single bite.

The next day there was another cookie waiting. This one a perfect peanut butter cookie. And so it went everyday for a few months.  Oatmeal Raisin, Fudge Crinkles, Soft Snicker-doodle, Whipped Shortbread, Gingerbread, and on and on until one day there was no cookie waiting for him at all.

But Darren’s delectable benefactor had not abandoned him. In place of a cookie sat a cupcake under under a glass cloche. Attached to the glass dome was a sticky note that read, Take a bite and then think ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Darren offered no darting eyes, neither did he scan the office floor prairie dog-like. He simply removed the glass cloche and enjoyed the cupcake.

He later related to me soon after the sensation of content that came over him. A feeling of absolute surety, a singularity of purpose that washed over him in a wave of ones and zeros. He told me the binary language coursed through him, whispering a single question to which he gleefully answered ’01’.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. 01. 01. 01. 01. The language he would speak for the rest of his life.

We each stepped into a world better suited to the other that day. Me into Life, and Darren into a word entirely dedicated to order and predictability. We worked together for another twenty years before I retired with to spend more time with my family.

Darren is still at OSCR, checking spells. Everyday I email him a new dessert recipe. It keeps him on his keys.

Jimmie G

Writer’s Digest: The Writing Prompt Boot Camp. Two weeks of Craft, Creativity, and Discipline.

Day 3: Mystery Cookie

One Day you come into work and find a cookie mysteriously placed on your desk. Grateful to whoever left this anonymous cookie, you eat it. The next morning you come in and find another cookie. This continues for months until one Day a different object is left—and this time there’s a note.