I make it a habit to participate in the NYC Midnight flash fiction contest.
My two stories from 2016 can be found here.
This year, my first story I scored 7/15 on. Middle of the pack, so not terrible.
CH 1 Group 4 Scored 7/15
|Thriller||Backstage of a theater||An oyster|
THOSE THINGS WILL KILL YOU
Trapped like a rat in a maze, how will a single mother escape someone she trusted?
I’m an idiot.
I touched the tip of my tongue to my split lip and winced. I shouldn’t have let him in, but he’d seemed so nice on our dates.
My eyes burned from tears and I tasted copper with every hitched breath. Sticky blood clung to my skin where I pressed my t-shirt against the ripping pain of the stab wound, just under my right breast, and warmth still seeped.
My breath sawed from my run through the Imperial Theater. I still didn’t know how I’d gotten away, but by the slick, hot, liquid sliding from my side and the pain in my battered body, I didn’t have much time left. I curled into my hiding place, a small storage area under the stairs. He’d find me here. The glee in his eyes as he’d hurt me wouldn’t let him leave without finishing his prey.
Without finishing me.
I closed my eyes and let my head rest against the wall for a moment. Then I straightened up, I had to make it out of here. Had to. My kids would wind up in an orphanage if I didn’t.
I gritted my teeth against the pain and listened with everything in me, quieting my breath as much as I could.
I peeked out of the cubby. Still nothing.
Then I slid out. It was hard, so hard, to make myself move against the pain, to crawl soundlessly, but I set my teeth and did it. I used my bloody hands to walk up the wall to a standing position. It was so dark back here. Far beyond the brightly lit stage. Here where we stored costumes, the aged velvet and lace stuffy against me as I sucked in breath and tears burned trails down my face.
I pushed through the hanging outfits, heart in my throat, trying to disturb them as little as possible, make no sound. I strained my ears to catch any hint of him. My nose was a broken, bleeding mess so I couldn’t smell anything.
My knees ached from where he’d thrown me down, but I didn’t let it stop me.
I moved slowly. Carefully. Like an owl-hunted mouse in short grass.
It’s always the normal-seeming things that turned out the most dangerous. If I got out of this, I would never date again.
Halfway there, I staggered and lost the grip on my side. I landed against the wall with an audible thump and froze. I pressed a hand over the wound again. I’m no lightweight, and the fall made me bleed harder. I listened, hoping he hadn’t heard.
I moved faster. I made it through the paint studio, costuming, props, and to the door that would take me to freedom. The cast lounge. We’d had a huge party there tonight to celebrate the successful final show. I didn’t want to leave the comforting dark of the props room with all its helter-skelter chaos.
I listened. If he waited anywhere, it’d be between me and the door. My neck tingled, and I shivered, or maybe he was behind me?
Gods. My kids. Emme sixteen and Josh only five.
I could see through the door the scattered mess we’d made of the room, my red blood glistening on the floor where he’d stabbed me. Maybe he’d actually left? My heart raced with hope, and I stepped into the room.
I came even with the white-clothed table scattered with leftover refreshments. My cell phone lay next to the plate of oysters. Smoked oysters, breaded, some glistening slimy on the half-shell, lemons a brilliant yellow counter-point to the whites and browns.
I’d lost myself for a moment, delirious. I forced another weaving step, just get the phone.
Get to the door.
His arms closed around me tight from behind, like a lover’s. He whispered close to my ear, “Gotcha.”
I’d have screamed if I could’ve. His arms binding mine pressed into all the places I hurt. I sagged, wanting to give up, but on the backs of my closed lids were my children’s laughing faces.
I leaned on him, heavily. If I seemed too weak to fight, maybe…
In my youth, before I’d gained so much weight, I’d been a martial artist. Now, I set my feet, braced myself for the pain and shoved upwards, throwing my head back into his nose at the same time to the satisfying crack of bone. He lost his grip on me, and I staggered forward to the table.
Bloody hands left streaks across the white of the cloth as I fumbled for the knife we’d used to cut the oysters out of their shells. My fingers gripped its shellfish-juice wet blade as he grabbed me again and I jammed it up over my shoulder into his face.
The blade, tiny but sharp, carved a furrow across his lip and bit into his tongue. He shouted, threw me and I landed hard on the smooth wooden floor. Dishes clattered.
I lay, breathless, dripping blood, five feet away from him. I’d lost. In the scuffle, my phone had fallen from the table and lay about two feet from me.
I watched him. Two feet was too far away, I’d never make it.
His hands were on his throat, the flash of a medical alert bracelet gleaming, eyes bulging as he tried to suck in a breath.
One that wouldn’t come.
In shock, I watched my attacker die. He fell over with a thump after choking on nothing as I lay there bleeding.
I dragged myself to the phone, swiped the screensaver of my kids, leaving a streak of sticky scarlet on the glass, and dialed 911.
I pressed my hand to my bleeding side and waited for help.
The last thing I remembered was the flash of the ambulance lights.
I woke in the hospital to see my kids’ worried faces.
“I’m here, my loves.”
CH 2 Group 4 No score yet
|Fantasy||A donut shop||Charcoal|
THE DRAGON’S DEN
Posted in November after results are in.