You want a hanging cliff? Ah, I get it. You want the guy who’s hanging the cliff. Wait what? Someone’s hanging Cliff? About time. He’s had it coming for weeks now.
And without further ado, here’s my take on Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge. His idea is that somebody will take your story to their heart (that somebody is probably you or that guy standing behind your back, wielding an axe) and writes what happens next. That’ll be next week’s challenge.
My text this time is called BALLS.
Emil puts his hand above his eyes to get some shade. Damn, it’s hot today.
“Just that stack, then we’re done”. The blonde with the baseball hat keeps chewing his gum at a furious pace.
Emil walks over and eyes the crates up and down.
“There must be thirty of them.”
“Just do it. Don’t worry, you’ll get your pay.”
Emil knows that it’s true. The boss always keeps his word.
“What’s in them?”
“Just shut up, Emil.”
“Man, they are heavy. I bet you couldn’t take all of these in just one truck.”
“Maybe we can. Maybe not. None of your business, fatman.”
Insults and heavy lifting. And this fucking parking lot. Hot as an oven. Emil shakes his head.
“I’ve gotta take a break.”
“Yeah, sure. When you’re done.”
Emil lowers his head, tries not to look at the gun. It’s sitting next to the blonde guy, on top of the car trunk.
“I mean it, man. These fuckers are heavy and I’m gonna drop one if I can’t get some water or something. I need to rest.”
“You don’t want to push me.” Blondie walks over and slaps Emil hard across the face.
Emil puts down the crate. He looks at the gun. Picks the crate up again.
“Sorry, man. I didn’t mean to disrespect you.”
The blonde opens his mouth to say something. Emil hits him hard on the side of the face with the crate and he just slumps over, making a dampened heavy sound when he hits the ground. A dark circle grows around the head. And gets bigger. Emil walks past him, careful not to step in the blood. He takes the gun and shoves it down the back of his jeans.
“Should have let me have my break”, he mutters.
He walks over to the crates and picks a new one up. Once inside the warehouse he puts it down on a shelf.
It’s made of wood and about twenty inches on each side. Whatever is inside, it’s pretty heavy for it size, Emil thinks as he keeps examining it. On top of the crate is a “THIS SIDE UP” and on the bottom a small sticker with a picture of a test tube on it. Emil smiles. This could be something that’s actually worth something.
He yanks at the boards but they won’t budge. Emil walks out into the parking lot again. A few flies have found the blonde. Emil shuts the corpse’s eyes, he can’t have them stare while he rummages through the trunk. Below the spare tyre he finds what he’s looking for and goes inside again. This time he shuts the door and locks it.
He pushes the flat end of the screwdriver between two boards and slowly starts wiggling it up and down. There’s a moaning sound from the nails as they gently exit the wood, and it’s free. Emil lights a cigarrette and silently smokes it, sitting on the floor next to the crate. He is curious.
“Let’s see what’s inside you, then”, he says silently and stands up.
He can feel the sweat pearling on his forehead and his fingers are trembling just a little as he lifts the lid, carefully. Still no visitors. Good. Is it getting hotter in here?
As he takes the top off completely he freezes. Then he drops the lid. Just stands there, looking at the thing inside the crate.
It is round and yellowish, hell, even golden, and well, it’s hard to decide with the fluorescent tubes in the ceiling and everything, but yeah, it looks like that thing is glowing by itself. Emil pokes the sphere gently with his index finger.
“Ow! Man, what the fuck! For fuck’s sake!”
Emil pulls his hand back violently and takes a step backwards. The crate flips over and the glowing ball rolls out of it slowly, like a basketball through a deep puddle of water.
He looks at the tip of his finger and his stomach turns upside down, or inside out, or whatever it is that stomachs do when a fingertip melts. There is nothing left above the middle of the fingernail except a clean cut wound that’s not even bleeding.
Emil throws up on the floor and on his sneakers and he starts to cry. Pieces of vomit are in his beard and on his t-shirt, but it doesn’t matter. He clutches his finger. It’s burning inside now, with a sharp, mind numbing pain that multiplies for every second. He’s got to get out of here. So he walks toward the exit, blinded by tears, pain and fear. Behind him, he can hear a soft slithering sound as the sphere turns and starts rolling his way. It’s so slow.
Emil turns the lock but the door won’t open.
“Help!” His voice is squeaky, weaker than he thought it could be. “Help me!”
The ball is still several yards away, but it’s firmly rolling towards him. Then an explosion of light from the ceiling. “Floodlights?”, he thinks. He is confused.
“Hey, Emil.” There must be a loudspeaker somewhere high up. The voice is cracked and metallic, but it’s the boss. No doubt.
“Uh”, he says.
“Couldn’t stay away from those crates?”
Emil squeezes his finger even harder and looks at the sphere. Maybe ten feet away.
“No, boss. I’m sorry. I really am.” He cries loudly now. His big body jumps up and down softly with every sob.
“Don’t worry about it, son. Just push the green button to the left of the door. See it?”
Emil puts his thumb on the button and presses it all the way in.
“Don’t let go, son.” The boss clears his throat. “Now look up, above you. See the dynamite?”
Emil looks at the ball, coming for him. Six feet. Then he leans his head backward and gazes into the shadows above the floodlights. He spots the wires first, coming out from where the ceiling meets the outer wall. Then the dynamite. He counts at least eight sticks.
“Come on, I’ll pay for all of it.”
“You’re not stupid enough to let go of that button now, are you, son?”
There is a loud, harsh click, and the boss goes silent. All Emil can hear is a soft slithering sound coming his way, really slowly.