Flash Fiction Challenge #24: “The Torch”

Flash Fiction, writing

I’m back for Flash Fiction. Had no time for last week’s, sorry! This week’s challenge at Terrible Minds: write 1000 words about this picture, any genre. Mine is 1000 bang on. Enjoy.

 San Juans Night, Bonfire, Fire, Flames, Heat, BurnThe Stag & Doe From Hell 

I hadn’t wanted to go to the stag and doe, but the groom was a friend of a friend of a friend, so I was obliged, which was okay, because a guy that I liked would be there. It was held in a drive shed, tables set up on the left, dance floor to the right, alongside a lawn tractor, rototiller, and table saw; all very romantic. At least the music was half decent.

Because I had no choice but to be there, I decided to make the best of it, and could only do that drunk. Half an hour in, I’d had four shots of vodka and a rum and Coke. Sitting at the table amongst people with whom I was less than acquainted, I was eager to get up and dance.

That was when Nick approached. He winked and sat down beside me, then leaned into my ear. “Come dance with me.” He didn’t have to ask twice.

By midnight I was having a blast. We’d been dancing for an hour when Nick bent down to kiss me. Locking lips with him, I was in heaven, but it happened so fast that it might not have happened at all.

“Whoa, man, what are you planning to do with that?” someone shouted from behind us.

Nick and I pulled away from one another and turned towards the commotion.

Some guy was holding a propane blow torch in his hand. He pointed the flame at the people around him with a psychotic grin on his face.

“That’s Elliott VanOosteer,” Nick said. “His fiancée just broke up with him, apparently. I guess she was cheating on him.”

“Oh!” I said. Worry set in as Elliott began to chase those around him away with the flame. I could feel the heat from here.

I’m going to burn this fucker down,” Elliott shouted, “unless someone tells me who she was cheating on me with!”

I looked at Nick. “Is he kidding?”

Nick shrugged and guided me backwards, towards the tables. People had stood from their chairs, preparing to flee. The music stopped, leaving the shop in sudden silence but for the cries of fear, confusion, or annoyance.

Elliott circled towards the entrance of the shed, blocking the only exit. “Tell me! I know someone here knows who it was!”

I glanced at the two sixteen-foot-high doors of the drive shed, wishing one of them had been open. But it was November, cold, and no one wanted to shiver while they drank.

“No one knows anything, Elliott!” a shout man shouted. “Just give me the torch! Someone’s going to get hurt!”

Good!” Elliott cried. “I want them to get hurt! One of yous is the one that did it! I want to know who!”

He stood with a good radius of empty space around him now, for party-goers had backed as far away from him as they could. I glanced behind me into the sea of people and wondered if there was a back door—I had not come to this party to be killed—but I couldn’t see through the swarm. I’m sure had there been one, someone would have found it.

Elliott leapt at two men trying to circle around him. When the flame licked one man’s shirt, he cried out in pain and terror. His shirt went up in flames. The other man threw down his beer to help his friend remove the burning cloth.

Water!” the friend shouted. “Someone get us water!”

The man who had been burnt dropped to the floor in agony, rolling on the cool cement to help ease the pain. A few women rushed over with cups of water and threw them on his chest.

My heart pounded as Elliott jumped towards another group of men, these ones having backed away as far as they could, into an assemblage of tables and chairs.

I didn’t want to watch, but I was glued to the scene. Elliott waved the torch at the three men, getting two more in the shirt and the last one in the face. They screamed and shouted while others, hesitant, tried to approach the injured to offer them help.

“Yes! I’ve called the cops!” a girl behind me hissed to her boyfriend.

Being that I was backed into her, closer to her than I’d even been to Nick, I turned and whispered, “I don’t think they’ll get here in time.”

Elliott held the torch out before him as though wielding a sword and turned to look in my direction. We were only twenty feet away and couldn’t back up any further.

Tell me or I’ll hurt someone else!” Elliott shouted again, his gaze leaving mine and falling onto surrounding men.

Nick suddenly stepped around me.

“What are you doing?” I called, but he glanced back and shook his head.

“Turn that thing off,” Nick said and approached Elliott with his hands in the air. “It was me, okay. It was me that slept with Samantha. Don’t hurt anyone else. We can fight it out, outside.”

Rage inundated Elliott’s glare and he screamed, “Die, you motherfucker!” He leapt at Nick with the torch, and though Nick tried to hurry back, he tripped over his own feet and fell to the ground. Elliott jumped on top of him and shot the flame directly into Nick’s face. The sound of Nick’s screaming reverberated around the shed—or maybe it was mine.

When men began to jump onto Elliott’s back to pull him off his prey, Nick was no longer screaming. In the place of his head was charcoal.

We all stared at Nick’s body in shock. I don’t know how I was still standing. My limbs felt like rubber. I couldn’t stop shaking.

An older man knocked Elliott aside the head with the propane canister, twice.

“I can’t believe he did that,” a young man’s voice whispered behind me. I whipped around. “It should have been me. I’ve been sleeping with Samantha.”

© Lindsay Mawson, 2011

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