Monday, July 14, 2014

Don't Ask What's in His Belly

This is a 250-word piece I wrote for this week's Flash Fiction Challenge at Indies Unlimited.  A picture is provided for the challenge, as well as a few lines of context/setup, and from there you're to write a 250 word (or less) story that includes elements from the photo, the context, or both. The photo in this post is not the picture from the challenge.

“Why is everybody yelling and running?”

I swallowed warm spit and fought for an answer that would make sense to him.  “It…ah, it’s…you’ve been in the water a long time, Andy.  Years.  Decades.”

“No I haven’t.  I just went in a couple minutes ago.”

Trying not to breathe in his stink, I just shrugged.  “Don’t I look any different, Andy?”

My little brother shook his head, and a pale gray crab dropped out of his eye socket.  It scuttled toward the water.  “Who’s that?” he asked, pointing with a ruined forefinger over my shoulder.

My confusion and loathing turned instantly to terror.  “Stay BACK!” I shrieked at the approaching Jonah, whose face crumpled into shocked misery.  “Go back to your mother.  Now!”  I’d apologize later.  If there was a later.

“You know that kid?”

My first instinct was to lie.  “No.”  A quick glance showed me that Sara was hustling Jonah away.  “Well, yes, actually.  He’s my son.  He’s only four.  Look…Andy…”

The remaining parts of Andy’s face that still had flesh on them writhed in bewildered amusement, as if I’d made a joke that he was on the cusp of getting.  “Very funny.  Let’s go swimming.”

I slipped my camera into the pocket of my swim trunks.  “Who’s that coming out of the water?”  

“Just some friends I met.  They’re really cool.”

I didn’t wait for the octopus that was trying to wriggle through the splintered gap in his ribcage to free itself.  I just ran.

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