We were given a challenge by Chuck Wendig on the site terribleminds.com to write some flash fiction, 1000 words, based on this picture. One week to do it. I’ve never done this, but it sounded fun, and I wanted to expand my writing a little bit. Yes, of course, my novels are #1, but while they are being edited, I wanted to continue writing. This was fun. Here is my first piece of flash fiction. It’s actually 1134 words because WHEN can I ever keep things short?? 😉
The heat was stifling, oppressive, threatening to suck away her breath, what little she could muster, anyway. What she would not give to hear the loud rattle of the air conditioner… but she was no longer with the option of giving. Now, it was about taking, taking every last minute that she could, because time was running out.
The silence in the room was as thick as that in a coffin. As she stood watching out the window of her hotel room on the top floor, she expected to hear something. For God’s sake, the hotel was full on this hot summer day. The fair had drawn an immense crowd, though for the past two hours sporadic bouts of rain had spoiled much of the fun. Fairgoers had returned to the hotel in small groups of three or four; mothers, fathers, children.
She only wished her presence here had been for reasons as carefree as enjoying cotton candy on the Farris wheel.
A sudden creak above her caused her to jump. The roof. Surely a result of the increasing wind. Nothing to worry about. After all, how could he have found her here, at this rundown hotel? It had been a spur of the moment decision to take shelter here. Otherwise, she would have been driving another two hours without the opportunity to stop. She had hidden her car well out of view of the road, though with the numbers of hotel occupants, it would have been hard to find in the parking lot, anyway.
A crack of thunder swallowed her and she jumped in panic, but as the great booming rolled into time and distance, her trotting heart began to slow. She pulled the curtain further across the window, allowing herself only a crack through which to see the road. She had left the lights in the room off, God forbid he see her silhouette standing here. It was the first window one would see when driving up to the building; top floor, in the corner. Her room would be like a shining beacon had she left even the dimmest of lamps on.
So she stood in the dark, her nerves fraying at each remotely unusual sound.
A flash of lightning so close, she thought she could feel its electrical current in her feet and hands. But it was just nerves.
He would likely continue past her hotel, not think to stop here. Why, after all, would he expect her to attract such danger to a hotel full of families?
She watched the road for his black Camaro, distinctive because of the silver racing stripes adorning the hood. Her view of the westbound lane of the highway was perfect. She would see him coming. She had to see him coming. Her life depended on it.
Lightening flashed again, and only three seconds later, thunder exploded through the air. The shockwaves rattled the glass pane in its frame, and as though having waited for this particular moment, the storm clouds released a wall of rain so dense that she could see it approaching from the east, across the parking lot. Then it was hammering her window.
In the room next door, the television suddenly blared. A wave of relief that her neighbours were home washed through her, and she listened to the sounds of Roadrunner taunting Wiley Coyote. Sound of an anvil falling. Roadrunner’s “Meep-meep”.
A car outside honked. Her attention withdrew from the TV and turned to the road, heart now galloping in her chest. No Camaro, though. A minivan had nearly collided into a small Ford that had pulled out in front of it.
The television in the next room grew louder then. She barely noticed this, and continued to watch out the window. Until, that was, she heard the scratching of keys in the lock of the door adjoining her room to the next. She whipped around and stared at the beige steel door that had been locked upon her entry to this room, but that now began to squeak open on its hinges.
Wiley was falling from a cliff with the signature high-pitched plummeting whistle.
She grasped the window frame behind her as the adjoining door further opened and a black shoe became visible. Next, a gloved hand grabbed the door and pushed it into her room.
Stifling her cry of terror, she leaned into the window now, glancing behind her, wishing it had opened up to a balcony, but it was a sheer ninety-foot drop to the parking lot below. The only way she was going out this window was if it were by a will other than her own.
When she turned back to the door, she could see his entire body, head to toe, standing in the space between the door and the footboard of the bed, watching her with a sneer. He slammed the adjoining door shut.
If not for wearing all black, mostly leather, she might have easily spotted him in the parking lot. But now, she realized how she could have missed him. Or maybe there was a second entrance to the building that she had missed. Goddamn her for being so careless!
“You’re so fucking cute,” he muttered from inside his sneer. “So naïve.”
Her hand skittered in behind the curtain on her left, grabbing blindly for the knife she had set on the sill. He saw this movement, though, and he raised a small black gun in response, a gun equipped with a silencer.
“Drop it, sweetheart.”
There was nothing to drop, because it appeared that the knife had disappeared. It was far out of her reach. Maybe it had fallen to the floor.
“Y—You don’t need to kill me,” she whispered to her ex, wishing she had in fact left him for someone else, someone that was here now to protect her. Instead, she had left on principal, left because of his abuse… and his deteriorating mental health.
She chanced a panicked glance to her left now, wondering where the fuck the knife had gone… and she saw it. Just past her fingertips.
“I still… I still love you, you know,” she lied, hoping to diffuse his anger long enough that he would not notice her lean to the left, towards the knife.
He rushed at her now, bearing down on her with all his weight, and she cried out. He dug the muzzle of the gun under her chin with his left hand, and with his right, wrenched the chef’s knife away from her. He tossed it to the floor behind him and then grabbed the gun with his right hand.
“Please!” she cried.
“So naïve,” he whispered with a smirk. He lifted the gun and smacked her aside the head.
The world, so dark already, disappeared then.
© Lindsay Mawson 2011