Is it 30 July already? What happened to the summer?
Never mind. I hate summer. Autumn can bring its apple cider, I’ll bring the Captain Morgan.
Forget the end of summer — it’s the End of the World! Just a few short hours left to get your entries in for the fabulous End of the World Flash Fiction Contest. So far we’ve had meteors, strange plagues, unexplained seismic activity, and snapshots of lives about to be snuffed out. What will you add?
Just to make sure everyone’s entries are getting spread out to the ether, I will post them as they come in (two at a time, the exception being from 5-10 EST when I will be slinging beers and contemplating the apocalypse).
The first of today’s entries is by Eleni Sakellis, a fabulous writer and lovely woman I met at the Writer’s Digest Conference in January. The second entry is by the fantastic Stacy Bennett-Hoyt — enjoy these delicious morsels of flash fiction.
The waves crashed on the shore just outside the balcony of the honeymoon suite. Maggie nudged her sleeping husband.
“Brian, something’s wrong,” she said.
He got up and opened the balcony doors. The sun had changed color.
“An eclipse?” Brian asked.
“I’ve seen an eclipse. It doesn’t turn the sun purple,” Maggie replied.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Come back to bed.”
He stepped out onto the balcony, into the eerie purple light, and disappeared.
Maggie screamed. Brian barely caught a glimpse of the giant alien spacecraft that beamed him up.
“That fills our quota of humans. What should we do with the rest, captain?”
“Oh, just incinerate them,” the captain replied.
“No! Wait! Don’t!” Brian cried out.
“This human understands our language, captain.”
“Please, I beg you! Don’t incinerate them!”
The captain hovered over Brian, who was tied to a metal slab.
“The slave amuses me. I am glad we chose him over the female,” the captain said.
“Please! Save her instead of me!” Brian said.
“You would sacrifice your life for hers?”
“Yes! Yes, I would!”
“But does she possess your facility with alien languages?”
“Yes, she does.”
“He lies, captain.”
“I know it, fool! Your gift is rare, human. I cannot part with you so easily. Forgive me,” the captain said.
“Wait! Can’t you save my wife, too?” Brian asked.
“One more human won’t make much difference, captain.”
“Silence! I am addressing the human. Even if I ‘save her,’ as you put it, you will never see her again,” the captain said.
“But she will live. That’s all I care about,” Brian said.
The captain placed a tentacle on Brian’s shoulder. It reminded Brian of the delicious grilled octopus he and Maggie ate for dinner last night in the taverna by the sea. The captain sensed Brian’s thoughts and laughed.
“You have moved me, human.”
The captain pressed a button with another of his tentacles and Brian’s wife appeared.
“I hope she fetches a good price in the slave markets,” the captain said.
“You never said anything about slave markets!” Brian shouted.
“Don’t worry, human. She will live.”
Maggie ran to embrace her husband, but a guard restrained her. The captain raised another tentacle. The guard let her go. She threw her arms around Brian.
“I thought you were dead!”
Maggie kissed him over and over, while the captain watched. He wiped a bit of slime from his three enormous eyes. His subordinate approached him.
“The planet’s resources are absorbed, captain.”
“Good. Proceed with the incineration,” the captain replied.
“Why incinerate the planet if you already absorbed its resources?” Brian asked.
“We use the energy to power our ship, human. Say farewell, my pets,” the captain said, patted Brian and Maggie on the head, and pressed another button.
Brian missed the end of the world. He averted his eyes and held Maggie when the flash of light incinerated the planet.
Joel’s fingers curled around the small box in the pocket of his baggy shorts. The sun was hot and his sweaty fingers stuck to the wrapping paper a little. Sweat ran down his back and trickled along the sides of his face. Not all of it was from the heat.
It was Abby Swanson’s birthday party. He watched her ponytail bounce through the crowd, her brown hair tied up in a yellow ribbon so large it shaded her neck. You’d think a bow like that would look corny, but not on Abby. Tendrils of hair escaped the bow, curling in the heat.
The present had been wrapped three times now. The first time he had wrapped it in Christmas kitten paper. But he was too nervous to give it to her and hadn’t even said hello to her the whole week before winter break. For Valentine’s Day, he had torn off the kitten paper, wrapping it up in red hearts. Again, he chickened out, spending most of Valentine’s Day in the boys’ room retching. He was the most miserable cowardly boy in the whole middle school. Now, the box was covered with colored balloons. Mom said third time’s a charm.
Inside was a delicate silver fairy necklace inset with colored gems. Abby liked fairies. As least, he thought she did. After all, what girl didn’t like fairies?
When Abby started opening presents, her green eyes sought him out. His mouth dried up; his heart pounded. The thought of handing the box to her in front of everyone left him weak in the knees. He seriously thought he would puke. In a panic, he headed for the gate. Abby appeared at his elbow as his sweaty hands struggled with the latch, putting her hand on his arm. She asked him to stay for cake but he couldn’t. He wanted to tell her that he liked her but he was certain she could never like him back because of what a coward he was. Embarrassed, he left without a word.
At dinner, his parents were upset. Something in the news had scared them. They kept talking about the “end of the world.” But he was too busy thinking about Abby to worry about it. Today, he had been so close.
That night, he unwrapped the necklace and held it in his hands. He prayed that he’d wake up with the guts to walk over and hand Abby the necklace. Then Mom popped her head in to say goodnight, something she hadn’t done since he was very little. She sure was freaked.
Joel woke unusually early. A strange glow from the window drew his gaze. His heart froze at the mushroom cloud blooming in the distance. The world was completely silent, but not for long. In his last seconds, he found his courage but there was no time now to run to her door, to kiss his sweet Abby before the end. Heartbroken, his fingers crushed the fragile wings still in his hand.
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