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Reflex Fiction Posts


The train slowed again. Corinne chewed her lip, face pressed against the glass. Gnawing dread was eroding the joy of the day. Shouldn’t have stayed for that last coffee. As always, she’d been seduced by Zoe’s easy manner, her smiled assurance that another few minutes wouldn’t hurt. Should have caught the five past like she’d promised. Now she’d pay for it. She willed the train to pick up speed, but it merely sauntered.

He would be home by now. Would find no dinner in preparation. Would be cursing, slamming doors, searching the house for her. Corinne pulled her coat a little closer around her throat.

Behind her came raised voices, an echo of her thoughts. Corinne swivelled cautiously and glanced back between the headrests. She’d thought she was alone in the carriage, but there was a smaller compartment at the back, sectioned off by a sliding door. A couple, both standing. Shopping bags all over the floor, tins rolling under the seats. The woman was screaming. The man’s arm was raised.

Corinne drew back, shut her eyes, put her hands over her ears. But the shouts and screams continued inside her head like a memorised soundtrack.

This is how they get away with it, she told herself. Because everyone turns away.

There was a thump and a cry.

Corinne leapt up, ran down the aisle towards the couple. Stopped short.

It was the man on the floor. His head twisted up against the door, one arm held protectively above his head. The woman swung a shopping bag at him, something heavy in the bottom. It struck him forcefully. The man’s arm dropped.

Through the toughened glass door panel, the woman stared at Corinne. A trace of an old bruise across her cheekbones, a slight swelling of her lower lip, but in her eyes, something like triumph.

For a moment, Corinne wished it was not a door, but a mirror.

Flash Fiction by Jenny Roman
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Wild Bruises and Mechanical Birds in the Blackened Hours

Every night, the great rock face puts on a show depicting the lifetime of a bruise. First, the sun melts over the cliffs, wounding them with a bright red glow. The hue deepens to a blood orange and as the night conquers, the mountains go lurid with violet.

I seldom wait for the blackened end. It’s best to fall asleep before the cold takes over.

My belly presses against the burrowed earth as I crawl into my lean-to. The branches above huddle along a boulder forming a crooked spine of roof. I try to believe that this is safe, that the gleaming eyes of the mountain lion won’t find me here. I’ve seen her watching me, following.

A distant rumbling jars me from my thoughts. Is a storm coming? My shredded poncho is useless against summer monsoons. The ground trembles beneath my fingertips.

Then I see it: a glint of silver flashing against the variegating sky. Like a blade ripping through the air, a plane loops overhead. I’ve been wilding for . . . I’m not sure how long now. It’s been ages since I’ve seen signs of humans other than the occasional helium balloon bidding me happy birthday or get well soon from the top of some pine. Crooked-necked, I watch the small plane not far overhead.

It moves mechanically, lacking the majesty of the eagle’s soar. Still, it arcs as smooth as the vultures’ circle.

Numb, I stare skyward. I’d given up. It’s almost the black hours and I remember that someone may be looking for me. I stagger from my shelter into the clearing and shout.

They can’t hear me.

I wave my arms. Here I am . . . I’m still here.

The plane turns and morphs into a speck before disappearing on the horizon.

The dark settles. I’m left wondering if the plane changed direction because it saw me or because it didn’t.

I may never find out.

I feel the cougar’s yellow eyes lingering on my neck.

Flash Fiction by L L Madrid
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When the fires came the ones who could fled to the water. They stood waist deep in the black muckish pond as the flames consumed the wooden shops and houses, cars, power lines, trees, Carl Wilson’s prize roses, computers, books, pianos, desks, priceless paintings, the week’s trash, chairs, tables, and beds. Goldfish boiled in their bowls, mastiffs died at the ends of cruel chains, and Jennifer Anderson’s five-hundred-page manuscript, her life’s work, was nothing more than paper ash dancing on the fire’s updraft. Jackson Carmichael told anyone who would listen about some folks somewhere who were cooked alive in a pond in a town in a fire just like this. Most of the others kept to their own, huddled, speaking in low, frightened tones, and glancing at their neighbors, uncertain of who was there, of who was left. Challis Thomas stood alone off to the side, on the shallow edge of the pond that lay opposite the park and the town square, naked, singing softly to the baby she held in her arms. Now and then she bent to wet herself and her child, and when she stood again, her glistening dark skin flashed with the flames that surrounded them. The others kept their distance, but many stole glances of disapproval, pity, desire, and recognition. The fire raged long into the night, and the people endured, bodies aching, lungs raw, children crying. And when the town became a constellation of blinking, hissing red and gold embers in the dark night, they knew who among them would not return. First light showed them what they feared was true. The town was gone. They huddled still, afraid to leave the safety of the pond until, one last time, Challis Thomas eased herself and her child into the water then emerged, stepped onto the barren land, and walked away from that dead place.

Flash Fiction by Ralph Wahlstrom
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Blood in the Oil Sands

We drove north towards the fires in the northern territories and silently turned up the gravel road to the oil rig where the grizzly ate the woman. She opened the blue plastic door to the porta potty and found the bear. It attacked. Before she could close the door or run away she was on the ground with a mouth of bear teeth rending her arm. Her screams drew us like a pump draws oil. We said we beat the bear with tools and hands. We said we yelled and pulled at fur and stuck fingers in beady black eyes while teeth ripped her arm off and claws tore open her chest. That’s our story because dried blood in the oil sands can’t talk. The smoke from fires and the fog of memory stung my eyes to tears and I could still see her from where we really were, behind the porta potty. We yelled. I threw my boot but the bear growled and that was the end. It was big and wild and real. Her last breaths bubbled through the blood in her throat and the bear made off with the arm no one ever found.

Flash Fiction by Parker McIntosh
Picture: Glove by Sarah under CC BY 2.0
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No Woman Is

The newspapers called it Puddle Protest. Mary was thinking No woman is an island. The developers left an unfinished road on her estate. The council denied responsibility. Impasse. When the forecast storm came, she placed her white plastic garden chair in the middle of the puddle and sang songs until the media arrived. She quoted John Donne, Status Quo and once, when the puddle splashed against her knees, Blondie.

After the local radio station lost interest, she decided to stay and ignored entreaties to do otherwise. She asked neighbours to join her, but they looked away. She explained that the causeway was safe. They looked somehow frightened. She reached out her hand. It was not held or even acknowledged.

The boy from two doors away came with a paper boat and pushed it across. She picked it up and saw the writing. Us and Them. She looked up but he was heading back to homework or tea or scolding.

He came every day with a new boat which he pushed across to her. On the third day there was a button. She smiled when she looked at it and felt the loose thread on her coat.

The next day there were petals in the paper folds, and on Saturday a cardboard number two. She lived at number twelve, but people often thought it was number one.

In the second week he sent a small pencil he must have picked up on a trip to IKEA with his parents. They exchanged messages.

The sweet spices from the end of an Indian meal seemed to be included knowing the water would bleed their vibrant colours into the paper and the puddle. There were sherbet lemons wrapped up and intended to be eaten. She wrote saying thank you, and told him about her favourite sweets.

Then there was a mint with a hole in the middle. She knew a lifebelt when she ate one, and waded across, smiling.

Flash Fiction by Rob Walton


“Open up your heart to the sun.” The yoga teacher chants, her voice like balm on my forehead. I arch my back and hold my palms together high above my head. I close my eyes and see colors. Oranges and yellows and reds. My limbs are all longer than thirty minutes ago, my neck like a swan’s, my spine like a stretching panther’s.

This is where I hear my thoughts. My breath. The sounds of this morning in my kitchen seem far away. His loud voice, his shaking jowls, his belly tumbling out of his too-tight T-shirt and low hanging pajamas. “The coffee is bitter. Johnny can’t find his soccer shoes. Can’t you get anything right?” His left toenail is deep blue. From when he tried to kick me but stubbed his toe on the bed leg instead. Ha. How I laughed inside.

I touch my nose to my knees. I fold, like a paper doll. I graze my lips to my knees and kiss them thank-you. For carrying me through every day. Soon it is time to end. I sigh into child’s pose. If only I could stay like this for longer. We all bow deeply, saluting each other’s souls with Namaste.

In the parking lot, I see I’m late. I have to pick up my son from his game. I imagine his forlorn face as every parent comes and he is left standing. I pull out of the far-too-narrow space I had pulled into, looking over my right shoulder. Then I hear it. The screech of metal digging into metal, metal scraping off metal, metal gashing metal. My car has grown a claw. I keep pulling out, taking the scar to its end.

I look in my handbag for a notepad, a pen to leave my contact information. Can’t find one. I look on the dashboard. None. I look around the parking lot expecting everyone to be looking at me. The owner racing towards me. The parking attendant. I see no one.

I push the gear into drive and race out the exit.

Flash Fiction by Mohini Malhotra
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Tabula Rasa

What Rudy remembered of their last night in Moscow were the gladiators on tables swinging gold-tipped skirts. They had been on vodka and gentle lifts of ecstasy for two days after the boss went back to Milan early, which included the party finale last night. Now they were in the queue at the airport.

Rudy was summarising his thoughts. From the first day he’d felt that he had rejoined a collective of the belly, of the bowels. He’d read the Russians as a youth. You know the feeling when you land in a country and you see them as brethren?

His colleague Leo tapped his arm. “I wonder what happened to the guy we left at the party,” he said. “The guy from the hotel who came in the taxi.”

As he fished for his passport, Rudy’s mind staggered over the opulence of the party last night. There had been dancing girls entwined with the gladiators, lush girls with ponytails and erupting breasts and slashed gold togas. There had been bodies crammed on balconies embedded in the walls, bodies amassed on stages and crumpling in offshoot rooms. He had never seen anything like it. They had loaded up on vodka before the drugs kicked in. Rudy was good-looking but not a single person hit on him all night; there was only a black guy from Mali in the unisex toilets with whom he sat talking on the floor.

Rudy wondered if he would ever come back here with his job. They were always on the move with their product and usually achieved great success. But here in Moscow they sold nothing and people had no regard for them. Rudy knew he had flown into the eye of a civilisation where he neither existed or mattered.

Flash Fiction by Catherine McNamara
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