Haven- Friday Flash

Suite Hallway

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HAVEN

By Melissa L. Webb

I get off the bus, stepping into the cold night air, quickly avoiding the puddles that pepper the rain-soaked pavement. Hunching my shoulders against the chill, I head down the street. Away from the noise of life. Away from the commotion the day brought. Away from the noise of life. It was time to go home.

My feet hurry along the sidewalk, with almost no assistance from me. They long for me to be off them. Maybe a long hot shower would wash away the strain of my workday. I couldn’t wait to lock myself away from the world, my apartment walls comforting shields from the rude people lurking outside. Customer service was going to kill me.

I hurry on, the thought of peace and quiet spurring me forward. My chest lightens as I near my apartment. The stress dropping in layers, slowly releasing me from the hardened cocoon of tension I am wrapped in each day.

Turning onto my street, my feet practically fly to the doors of my apartment building. I take the stairs two at a time after letting myself in. I feel my sanctuary calling to me. Moving even quicker, I reach my hallway, staring down to the door at the end. This is my gateway to relaxation.

A shadow moves in the middle of the hallway. A man steps into view, if you could call him a man. His body is very square, his skin as porous as the moon with a jaundice tint. He gasps at me with each breath, struggling to take in the air around him. Each jagged expulsion of air emitting through a mouth that won’t stay closed. It flops open and closed like a fish waiting for food.

I step back as he moves forward, both of us moving in a choreographed dance as his eyes watch me. His eyes are huge. They take up almost all of his face. Those eyes stay locked on me, never faulting once as he gasps away.

I take another step back. He takes another step forward.

“You,” he says, pointing at me, coming closer still. “I’m done searching. I can settle for you.” He huffs the words as if he can’t stop the sharp exhale of breath constantly spilling from his lips.

I back up more. I have never seen this thing before in my life. I can’t imagine what he’s doing on my floor, but I know it can’t be good. And what he wants with me…I can see in his eyes, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

I turn around, sprinting back down the stairs and away from the creature lurking there. I’m suddenly wondering if my boss would let me pull a double tonight. It may be stressful, but at least I won’t be alone.

 

© 2011 Melissa L. Webb

 

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The Forgotten- Friday Flash

Picture by myself

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THE FORGOTTEN

By Melissa L. Webb

The rain drizzled around Bridget as she made her way to the portable classrooms at the back of the school. Children’s eyes followed her as she walked silently across the playground. She sidestepped quickly as a ball flew in her direction.

A kid scrambled for it, barely catching it before it struck her. She watched in shock as the kid took the ball and ran off without a word. With a sigh, she headed up the ramp and into the empty classroom.

Slipping inside, she flipped on the lights and looked around her. Loneliness greeted her as the cold, empty classroom came into view. This is what they thought of her. She was just something in the way, needing to be shoved out of sight.

“Why couldn’t I use one of the rooms in the main building? Would that really be too much to ask?” she muttered to herself as she walked over to a table and sat her bag down.

Bridget shook the rain off her coat and hung it on the back of a chair to dry before taking a seat at the table. She rummaged in her bag, pulling out the lesson plan and a blank notebook. At least she could get some real work done in the quiet of abandoned classroom.

Opening the book, she started taking notes as she studied the lesson. A fluttering in the corner of the room pulled her attention from the words she was writing. Glancing around her, she searched for the source of the noise. It was almost like book pages, rifling back and forth in the wind .

Everything remained still around her. Nothing moved in the empty room. She shook her head. That’s what happens when they lock you away by yourself, you start hearing things.

She went back to her work, trying once again to focus on the chore at hand. As soon as her eyes met the paper, the rustling started once more. Bridget’s eyes darted over the room. The sound stayed, growing in intensity as she searched, yet no movement at all stirred in the classroom.

She stood up as fear trickled into her chest. Shuddering, she realized how far she was from the main building and other people. She quickly reached out, snatching up her things, shoving them back in her bag.

A giggle erupted from all around her. It evaded her every pore. She stopped, looking around, trying to find the source of the laughter. Her mind told her to flee. She knew it was right. When invisible laughter fills a room, it is definitely time to go. Her body wouldn’t obey. The giggle sounded sweet, childlike. Her heart told her there was no reason to leave.

“Hello? Who’s there?” she called out, hoping for some answers to the strangeness around her.

The laugh filled up the room, taking all the emptiness with it. It felt as if the walls might burst from the presence of it. The fullness of it filled Bridget’s heart. Never had she felt so much joy in her life. Pure wonder flooded through her essence as she listened.

The giggling stopped and a faint shimmer started in the corner. It grew brighter until the whole room shined.

A gasp emitted from her lips as she took in the light in front of her. It brought back memories of warm summer nights, pink lemonade, and the fireflies that had danced just for her. It was beautiful.

She wiped absently as a tear flowed down her cheek. She couldn’t believe what she was feeling. How could that much joy and wonder come from a light in an empty classroom?

“Did you like that memory?” a voice asked her suddenly.

Bridget turned around, expecting more empty space, but instead, a small blond boy stood staring up at her. “Where did you come from?” she asked, shocked by his sudden appearance.

He shrugged his shoulders, the dirty rags he called clothes shuddered with the movement. “I can’t remember.”

She moved forward, a frown on her lips. “What do you mean?”

He shrugged again. “We’ve been here too long to remember the before.”

Her brow knitted as she looked around the room. “We?” she asked him. “You mean there are more of you?”

He nodded slowly as more children flickered around them, slowly fading into reality. Sad imploring eyes bore into her, filling her heart with instant sadness.

Tears flowed from her eyes as she looked at them. “Why are you here?”

“When people forgot about us and didn’t want us any more, we just ended up here,” the boy told her.

Bridget looked at their sad faces, and at the hope in their eyes. How could they just be discarded here? Forgotten and unloved?

A small girl looked up at her through long blond hair. “You must have been unwanted, too,” she said quietly. “You’ve been put out here to be forgotten.”

She shook her head. “No,” she told them with a smile. “I think I’m finally where I belong.” She sat down at the table, pulling out the lesson plan. She could make a difference here. These children needed her as no others could. “Take a seat, children,” she called to them. “We have a lot of work to do.”

© 2011 Melissa L. Webb

 

 

Midnight Fixin’s At The Zombie Bowl-O-Rama- Friday Flash

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the...

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MIDNIGHT FIXIN’S AT THE ZOBIE BOWL-O-RAMA

By Melissa L. Webb

The gravel crunched loudly under the tires as the truck made its way down the old road. I swung my flashlight across the side of the road. The beam caught a rusty Harley overturned in the ditch. It sat there, a pathetic reminder of what the world had become.

I shifted in the pickup bed and glanced at Harry, who was sweeping his flashlight over the other side of the road. “This is a waste of time. Everyone knows there hasn’t been a Deader out here in three weeks.”

He turned to look at me. “You know the drill, Tommy. Routine patrols are what keep the area clean.”

I huffed as I turned back to my side of the road. There was nothing to keep it clean from. Zombies only migrated to big cities with lots of survivors. Us few out here in the sticks did not matter much to them at all. Why nibble on a wing, when you could have the whole damn bird? “It just seems pointless, is all. We could be kicking back right now with a beer in one hand and a babe in the other.”

“Just focus on your job, would ya? Richard will have your head if you miss something.”

“Bite me,” I muttered under my breath as I swung the light around the road. Miss something? I wasn’t gonna miss nothing. There wasn’t anything out here but us idiots.

The truck silently entered into downtown Coldgrove. The dark buildings stared back at us in the beams of our lights as we trailed them back and forth. There was nothing out there. It was just another ghost town brought on by the Change.

The pickup crept on. Harry kept up his search, but I could only focus on the growing pressure in my bladder.

The old bowling alley came into view as we turned the corner. That place held fond memories for me. All my free nights had been spent there, chasing girls and getting wasted. This place was the highlight of my life until the Deaders put a stop to it. Damn undead. They sure knew how to put a damper on things.

I banged my fist against the cab as we pulled in front of the bowling alley. “Stop for a moment. I need to take a leak,” I said, vaulting over the side of the truck as it slowed.

Mickey rolled down the passenger window and leaned out. “What are you doing? You know the rules. Get back in the truck.”

“Relax,” I snapped as I hurried away. “We both know there’s nothing out here.” I headed around the side of the building and unzipped, relieving the pressure all over the wall. Take that, Zombies. Who said I couldn’t still enjoy this place?

I was zipping back up when I heard the first death rattle. It came from the darkness behind me. I turned around fast, pulling the flashlight from my back pocket. The light revealed how wrong I was.

The animated corpse stood there, what was left of its jaws was mashing open and closed, as if it was already enjoying the first bite of me.

“No way,” I spoke to it. “No freaking way.” I turned around quickly, desperate to get back to the truck bed and the shotgun I had foolishly left there. As I turned, I stumbled right into the arms of another Zombie. It moaned loudly as its teeth lodged in my neck.

I pushed myself back, feeling the flesh tear from me. I couldn’t care how bad it was at the moment. I had to get that weapon. I ran, emerging from the side of the bowling alley and frantically waved at the truck, hoping Harry would toss me the shotgun. “Hey,” I screamed. “I was wrong. We’ve got Deaders here.”

He looked at me, eyes wide as he shined the light over me. It stopped when it landed on my blood-covered throat. It an instant, he was pounding on the cab. “He’s been infected. Go! Go!”

The truck sped away as I stood there, pressing a hand to my neck. I knew they couldn’t risk me climbing into the truck bed. I would have done the same thing, faster even. But it still stung. They left me out here, alone and weaponless. So, this was how it was going to end. Either the Zombies would rip me apart or I would become one.

I turned back around; facing the place I had wasted so much of my youth. The two Zombies had reached the front, their moans joining the group of them swarming out of the bowling alley. I knew I would never be able to fight all of them. There was my ending, shuffling towards me in a giant parade of rigor mortis.

At least I knew now there was still a party raging at the Bowl-o-Rama. It was just the Deader kind.

 

© 2011 Melissa L. Webb

Echo Park- Friday Flash

Rusty fence

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ECHO PARK

By Melissa L. Webb

 

The rusty gate squeaked loudly, shattering the silence the area offered. Elena cringed as she slipped through, pausing to look around her. The last thing she wanted was to draw attention to herself. She wanted the world to forget she even existed and she couldn’t do that if she gave herself away.

The path before her beckoned, calling her into the overgrown trees which lay beyond. Silence once again filled the air, wrapping the woods like a protective blanket. The metal squeak had changed nothing. She was alone.

She followed the path, her skin soaking up the bright sun. This was a new start for her. No longer would she have to bow down to the strict rules her parents demanded of her. She couldn’t live like that, being the person they wanted her to be. It was killing her. She needed to be free to live her own life. And this was her first step; Conquering her fears.

Elena needed somewhere to stay while she plotted out her next moves. This was the first place that came to her mind. No one would ever look for her here. Everyone knew how terrified she was of the place.

But this was the new Elena. An Elena who wasn’t afraid to be out on her own and the old abandoned amusement park north of town would serve as her haven in her time of need.

Plastic eyes stared out of the trees at her as she neared what was left of the midway. She shivered at the sight of the forgotten creatures as they silently welcomed her to their world. She pulled her eyes away, determined not to scare herself already. Fiberglass and plastic couldn’t hurt her and that’s all this place was. A hollow echo of happiness gone by.

She kept moving forward. The rusty spokes of the Ferris wheel poked out of the trees above her. The empty seats swayed slightly in the breeze. She ignored it, moving forward, looking for a shelter of some kind. A small building stood past the skeletal remains of the bumper cars. Pulling the flashlight from the backpack she was carrying, Elena went inside.

It had been a diner in the park’s heyday. Dirty booths surrounded the long bar separating the kitchen from the dining area. A broken jukebox stood in a corner like a refugee from the end of the world. Looking around, she realized all her fear was gone. How could she be afraid of something that had been so welcoming in its day?

Tossing her backpack on a damaged table she headed further in, exploring the forgotten place. She saw a door to the left. She pulled it open and stepped in, shining the light around. The door closed with a gentle click and she stood there in shock. She was in a bathroom. A perfectly clean, well-lit bathroom.

Shutting off the flashlight Elena looked around her. How could this be? There was no way this one room could have power. She quickly turned and pushed open the door, nearly knocking over some woman.

“You should be more careful, dear,” the woman said before disappearing into the bathroom.

Elena stood there, staring at the busy diner. Around her, customers waited for their food and servers hurried about. Music wafted from the perfect jukebox adding just the right ambiance.

“Order up!” a cook called from the kitchen.

She shook her head slightly as she watched him, trying to free herself from this delusion. What was going on here? She walked over to the door and peered out. Laughter filled the air as she took in the crowded midway. All the rides were in motion, their lights twinkling brightly. She was now standing in the middle of a running amusement park.

Stepping back into the diner, she returned to the empty booth with her backpack. She slid in, trying to make sense of everything.

“There you are. I was beginning to wonder where you went,” a waitress spoke, sliding a plate of food in front of her.

Elena stared at the burger and fries. Her stomach growled loudly at the sight of it.

The waitress laughed. “Sounds like someone’s hungry. When’s the last time you had something to eat?” she asked, setting a malted milkshake next to her plate.

“It’s been a while, I guess.”

“Well, eat up, sugar. There’s more where that came from.”

Elena looked up at her. “Thank you,” she spoke softly.

“It’s my pleasure. Did you give any thought to what I said?”

“What you said?” she asked around a mouth full of fries.

“Yes. About you working here? We don’t get too many people like you in here. I think you could really liven up the place. What do you say?”

Elena bit into the burger, marveling at the juiciness of it. This place was better then she could have ever hoped for. A life here would be awesome. She could be something new, something better. Just like this park. It could be a life of second chances. “Sure. You have yourself a new waitress,” she told her and settled back, enjoying her first taste of her new life.

 © 2011 Melissa L. Webb

 

 

Take Backs- Friday Flash

Jungle

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TAKE BACKS

By Melissa L. Webb

It started with the pollen. There wasn’t one person in Merritt County that wasn’t suffering from allergies this year. The amount of hacking and sneezing around town was alone enough to make anyone sick. But the pollen took care of that. It worked its way into everyone’s systems until they were too weak to fight back.

That’s when the plants started to grow. Little plants no one could identify. They sprouted up all over the world. In yards, in gardens, anywhere there was a patch of dirt, those plants appeared.

It was amazing at first. A new species of plant appearing from nowhere. It was the scientific find of the 21st Century. The world celebrated a new era, but the celebration didn’t last very long. Dread quickly replaced the wonder in people. Because these plants didn’t stop growing.

They became thicker. They reached out, spreading across the lands, entangling with the vegetation we already called our own. That’s when our trees and plants turned on us. They, too, spread out, choking the life from our towns and cities. Their growth covered the world in a mass blanket of suffocation.

Our population dwindled. Nature was getting the revenge it needed. The revenge it deserved.

Those of us left knew the only way to save our species would be the eradication of all plant life. But they had that covered, too. How can we destroy something, if the very air we breathe depends on it?

© 2011 Melissa L. Webb