Flash Fiction 2 – Sibling Rivalry

Concept art Caleb Brown, ©2014

Bass rhythm pounded through the walls of the old, dilapidated house. Flecks of paint abandoned their posts as precarious sentries; airborne particles whirled and glittered in the black lights. Michael reached out with his hand and cupped the air. He watched particles swirl for him, captive and captivating, while the party raged around him.

“Best of the best, am I right?” A man with a Confed accent drawled in his ear. What was his name? Michael tried to remember around the haze of product. Max? Dax? Hax? The man adjusted his hat, which slid forward, concealing his eyes.

Michael nodded his appreciation. Not that he appreciated the interruption. He’d been communing.

Angry stomps off beat with the music caused Michael to blink heavy lids and look up. His sister. What was she doing here?

He sat up straight, knocking three girls to the floor off the couch they’d been piled on. Carnelia stood, quivering in anger. Her dress had blood spatter on the front. Her eye was in the process of swelling shut. Her lip was puffy as well. Adrenaline splashed him in the face with sobriety.

“Hope he paid you first.” Hax chuckled, not especially sensitive to the change in the feeling of the room.

Michael spun, kicking Hax in the face. He wailed, grasping his nose with both hands. He swore, or at least through the pain of having his nose broken he swore. The words bubbled and gasped through ruined sinuses.

“Who did this to you?” Adroitly avoiding the three girls, who were crawling away to find new laps, Michael brought his hand towards Carnelia’s face.

She winced.

Anger surged, roiling through a drug-laced confusion of the situation. “You tell me who did this to you.”

“Who do you think did it?” Ice crystals glazed her words.

Heart sinking, Michael sat down, ignoring Hax curled up in a ball on the floor. “No.”

“You said you’d always protect me, Michael. You said. You said that working for him would be our chance to make good. And it’s been your chance to make good, but what about me?” She glared at him through her unmangled eye. “You’re here getting fucked up, and I’m getting beaten up.”

“If you’d just listen…” Michael sighed. This conversation wasn’t a new one. It was a war of escalation. Parris would tell Carnelia what to do, she’d find some way to misinterpret his instructions, he’d punish her for it, and Carnelia would blame her brother, rather than herself.

“I’m not going to sit and listen for you to defend him. You promised me you’d quit drugs, you promised me this was just a job, and none of it is true, Michael.”

She may have had him on a point or two, there.

“They’re giving me the surgery.” Carnelia said, her voice barely audible over the chatter of people and the bass in the next room.

“What?” Michael shook his head. “The surgery?”

“It’s that or they’ll kill me, Michael.” Carnelia shrugged heavily. “At least if I die on the table, I won’t know.”

He shook his head. “I don’t understand what it’s for, even.” His thoughts flittered to the pale girl he’d just bribed a Kum & Go franchise to bury. “I can’t…”

“I know, Michael. But you should have tried harder.”

***

This flash fiction is based around my new novel, Bento Box. It is available for preorder and will be released June 30th, so you don’t have long to wait!

Flash Fiction 1 – Nathan meets Orochi

Concept art by Caleb Brown, ©2014

The small, white chapel had a neon sign that read Kum & Go. Below it another sign read: Funerary Services, open 24/7. Nathan had never been to a funeral before. It wasn’t that he didn’t know people who died. This time, it mattered.

The black coffin dominated the chapel. Dark veneered benches offered a place to sit. Nathan didn’t recognize any of the other four people looking bored or comm-zoned in the place. The chaplain had the good taste to look sad, at least.

Nathan found a bench in front of the casket and sat, seething. Alexi’s death hadn’t been an accident. She was too good a Savvy to overlook equipment in danger of breach. The casket lie closed, to not distress the fainter stomachs in the room. Explosive disruption of implants were an occupational hazard.

Nathan ignored the gathered group, wondering what had happened to Alexi in the three days since he’d lost contact.

The chaplain stood up to speak. The group settled to their chairs, deigning to pay attention to the deceased.

The heavy wooden door to the tiny chapel swung open, catching Nathan’s attention. He spun to see an enormous man with a bright green mohawk, a wide grin, and a full length leather jacket. The stranger filled the chapel with his presence.

“Fellow denizens of the Green Dome of Seattle, please do not get up. I’m only here for the beer and pretzels…” He trailed off when his eyes lit upon the casket. Nathan noticed that his grin faltered slightly before he continued. “Ah, the cooler! Fear not, your refreshments are at hand!”

“Who do you think you are?” One of funeral goers stood up. He came up short against such an enormous man. Nathan estimated his height at over seven feet tall.

The big man’s expression hardened briefly before resolving back into his big grin. “Why, sir, I’m the bartender, can’t you see? And I fear we all need a drink.”

He walked over to the casket. The chaplain was white with fear, and backed away, muttering prayers and crossing himself. He brandished his cross towards the interloper but did not step forward.

Nathan’s hand fell to his gun. He didn’t know who this meat muppet was, or why he upstaged Alexi’s funeral. When he grabbed the lid of the casket, Nathan hit his limit. He shot the man in the arm.

The bullet flattened against the leather, leaving a gray ashy mark before falling to the floor. The shot ringing through the air galvanized the others into action; they all ran for the door, screaming.

“Ow,” said the big man. He heaved the coffin lid up and looked inside.

“You piece of shit, you get away from her!” Nathan launched himself at him, no longer caring that he was two feet shorter than the interloper. He started pummeling, his fists slapping against the reinforced leather.

“Will you look at that?” The big man said, unperturbed.

Nathan’s head snapped around, and he immediately wished he hadn’t. Alexi lay on her back, eyes closed. Her skin held the pallor of death. It wasn’t the mess he’d expected, and that made it worse.

“Look here.” The big man said dispassionately. “Behind her ear.”

New, unhealed wounds pouted, showing red edges and hasty sutures. Despite the bloodless appearance of his deceased friend, nothing indicated massive equipment failure.

“What the fuck is going on here?” Nathan shouted in the chapel, his voice echoing off the walls.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” The big man assured him.

“Who are you?” Nathan felt as though his mind was starting to melt from overexposure to unbelievable circumstances.

“My name’s Jack.” His eyes flicked to Alexi, and Nathan could see the wistful sadness that showed briefly. “Alexi knew me as Orochi.”

“I’m Nathan. And I’m all ears.”

***

This flash fiction is based around my new novel, Bento Box. It is available for preorder and will be released June 30th, so you don’t have long to wait!