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Monday, August 18

Heavenly Strike

"Heavenly Strike"
Short Fiction - Fantasy
by Rod Drake

In Starbucks, of all places, I saw the archangel Gabriel drinking a steaming latte, just like any other customer needing his (or her) caffeine fix. Well, perhaps not like just any customer, since he was sitting at a table with a group of fellow angels, and their enormous white wings did make them stand out in that tiny coffee house.

I sat down at the empty table next to them, asked to borrow the USA Today on their table and that started up a casual conversation. Soon, Gabriel was telling me the reason for his earthly visit: a strike in Heaven. Now that pretty much beat any headline in the USA Today.

He explained to me that while wages were unneeded and unnecessary in Heaven; there was free room and board for all eternity, of course, and who needed spending money since there was nothing to buy in the celestial realm? But what really got to the angels was the 24/7 work schedule for ever and ever (Amen) with no holidays (except religious ones, and them had to work them, usually double-shift) or vacations. It was chafing the angels something fierce (and there is nothing worse than chafed wings I’m told) until it had now reached this Norma Rae point.

So all the angels, Gabriel went on as though he were at a press conference, from the seraphim down to the cherubs, had walked out, which explained why things on earth had gotten so bad lately. Rumor had it that the fallen angels in Hell had joined their heavenly brethren in a sympathy strike; union solidarity and all that. Satan was being forced to do his own torturing of the damned, and it was certainly more than one demon could handle, even given Lucifer’s many hands and tails.

The Angel of Death had joined the strike, putting dying temporarily on-hold. This explained why recent victims of grisly car accidents and that plane crash in Brazil refused to die despite being scattered in pieces. Odd things were happening down here as a result of the angelic strike, which was Gabriel’s bargaining chip.

Just then, Gabriel stopped talking. Outside flaming toads began falling in droves from a clear blue sky. The angels leaned back in their chairs, smiling and nodding at Gabriel. He got up dramatically (which is easy when you have majestic white wings and an ethereal glow about you) and winked at me, telling his fellow angels that the Big Guy wanted him back at the bargaining table. Gabriel felt victory would be theirs, since the Creator of All Things didn’t have any lawyers to help Him with a convoluted, protracted settlement (as there are, no surprise, no lawyers in heaven).

I wholeheartedly wished him the best of luck. And was glad to know about the strike and its effects on earth. Having been “murdered” a day ago in a street robbery gone wrong, I was getting tired of being between worlds.

Rod Drake likes to stand convention on its head for a laugh. Check out Rod's other stories posted in Six Sentences, Flashes of Speculation, Flash Forward, MicroHorror and AcmeShorts.

Tuesday, August 12

Gig

"Gig"
Short Fiction - Literary
by Julie Morgan

In the end, I went to the gig on my own. I thought it would be okay. Christ knows why – I'd had to stop playing the band's albums because they reminded me too much of you. Everything about them was so intensely intertwined with you, with us, from hearing their first single on the radio when we were driving, to looking out for the tour dates on their website and getting excited about seeing them when the tickets arrived in the post.

I always thought we would do this together, catch the band on their first UK tour. I could never have imagined that when the time came, you would be gone from my life, that you would have left me. It was so brutal, such a cruel thing to do. I still can't believe you did it.

Just a few songs in, the band played that song. You know the one. The one we liked the best, the one that was special to us. Before they finished, I felt a tap on my shoulder. If I had been in some story that followed the happy – sad – happy formula, I would have turned to see you standing behind me wearing the lopsided grin that always turned me inside out. Instead, I saw a bouncer with a face like stone and I realised that I was crying. I could hardly believe I had any tears left, but sure enough they were streaming down my face. Instead of you taking me by the hand and leading me into the future we'd dreamed for ourselves, he took me by the arm and led me out of the venue. He thought I must be drunk or stoned to be crying like that. Didn't want me upsetting the straights.

Of course I wasn't drunk and I wasn't stoned. I was just more alone than I had ever been in my entire life. Hurt, confused, bereft… I still don't know what I did for you to leave me behind like that, without a word, without anything at all. More than anything, I want to ask you why you did that.

Did you think what it would be like for me to find you? At first, I just saw your feet. You were so still, hanging there and I was so still, staring at you, barely comprehending what I was seeing. That's when the crying started. God knows if it will ever stop.

I go into a pub and get a drink. Brandy, because I think it might steady me, then I head for the Metro, nothing left to do but go home.

Home. That's not what it feels like, not any more. You're there and yet you're not. Your jacket is on the peg in the hall, your CDs are in the rack, your book lies open, face down on the bedside table. All untouched. I stand on the platform and wait. There's a roar and a whoosh of air as a train heading in the other direction passes through the underground station. The board shows my train is due. I hear a dim roar, see the lights approaching through the tunnel, hear the announcer say where the train is bound, then I'm running, jumping, falling, over the edge and out of this mess, no more tears, no more missing you, coming to find you to ask you why the hell you left me like you did.

Julie Morgan lives by the seaside in the north east of England. She has previously been published on Muzzle Flash, Powder Burn Flash and Darkest Before the Dawn and (as Julie Wright) here on Fictional Musings, Flashing in the Gutters and Flash Pan Alley.

Thursday, August 7

Crank caller

"Crank caller"
Flash
by Kate Kaminski

Drummer Dossett was really into crank calls. He loved that frisson when the voice on the other end tunneled, unsuspecting, into his phone ear, relishing the secret knowledge that he was, however momentarily, the answerer’s puppet master. More often than not, the juvenile nature of his jokes simply caused annoyance. When he began to try his hand at impersonating the famous – he did a creditable Johnny Carson and a truly stellar Jimmy Stewart – the most thrilling part was how long he could string his victims along before they figured it out, started yelling or hung up. When he grew bored playing other people and the calls became too predictable, he graduated to scamming geezers into sending him donations on behalf of Unicef and Make A Wish Foundation and eventually was able to take his first Caribbean vacation. Now Drummer spends his phone call time in the exercise yard, lifting weights and smoking Marlboros.

Kate Kaminski is an underground writer-filmmaker.