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Reflex Fiction Posts

Avoiding Pterodactyls

I avoid eye contact with my reflection when shaving in case it winks at me again and puts me in a bad mood for the whole day. If a bad mood catches you outdoors, the pavements crack and monsters crawl through to stop you getting home, like yesterday when the pharmacy courier called a day early before the long weekend. She won’t be back until Tuesday, so for four days I have to stay indoors to avoid monsters outside, while struggling not to yell at the shadow beasts in my flat when the screaming begins in case the neighbours think I’m a nutjob.

I had to skip work so told them my tummy is playing up. It is, because the courier had my cimetidine too, but not enough to keep me off work. Still, I couldn’t say there’s a panopticon of pterodactyls smashing through the ground, trying to sting me with venomous tails.

I rinse my shaver through the tap and place it back in the cup but when I leave me-in-the-mirror stays put. I stop. He sounds like me, but me before this happened. Confident, not desperate to get away. “Don’t ignore me,” he says. Me says. There’s a green, scaly spider in the doorway, its fangs dripping poison to form a hissing puddle around itself. I raise my heel, close my eyes and jump. It squelches beneath me, pincers stabbing through my slipper’s sole. They all scream. I dive under the bed. Three days until Tuesday.


Flash Fiction by Alex Cox
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I Think We’re a Clone Now

You see them all the time in their fluorescent yellow jackets. You might think they’re from the gas company, but Derek knows what’s really going on.

Clones, he says. That’s what they’re up to. The geezers in the hi-vis are replacing people in our street with clones.

You’re kidding, I say. Why would anyone do that?

Think about it, mate, he says. Just think about it.

I do.

They don’t look any different, I say.

Derek sighs. Course not, he says. Clones. Do you expect them to look different?

I see what he’s getting at.

Sort of.

So how do you tell, I say.

Tell what?

Tell they’re clones. Do they smell different?

’Course not, says Derek. They smell exactly the same. Clones, see?

So do they talk different?

No, says Derek, and you can tell he’s getting a bit fed up with me ’cos he sighs a bit when he says this. They don’t talk different. Why would they talk different? They’re clones. C-L-O-

Okay, oaky. I think carefully about what I’m going to say next.

So—?

So what? says Derek.

So what’s the problem? I say.

What’s the problem? says Derek. What’s the problem? Clones, mate. That’s the problem.

I’m still not getting it.

The problem, says Derek, is that they’re clones.

Right.

He looks at me in that pitying sort of way. I hate it when he does that.

Mate, he says, how would you feel if you were a clone?

I think about this.

Much the same, I say. Probably.

Jesus, says Derek. You’re not thinking this through, are you? Mate, you’d be a clone. You might feel you were still you, but you wouldn’t be you, would you? You wouldn’t be you at all. You’d be a clone.

All right, I say, but how can I tell you’re not a clone then? Gotcha, I think.

Me? A clone? No chance, says Derek, laughing. As if I’d let that happen to me!

He’s right. Derek wouldn’t let it happen to him, because he’s clued up, is Derek. He knows what’s what. They’d never manage to clone him. Way too tricky, that’d be. Way too tricky.


Flash Fiction by Jonathan Pinnock
Picture: Mannequin by Seika under CC BY 2.0
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A Moving Story

How?

Her small armchair had moved, to the place by the window from where Alice loved to watch the passers-by. Last night, she had left that chair in front of the television. She was certain.

Some would have been terrified by the strange occurrences. Yesterday she had woken late for work and flown out of the door, having failed to deal with her slept-in bed. On her return, she found it, immaculately presented, as if in a hotel.

Alice felt no fear, only the warmth of a person cared for. This was the sort of thing her mother would usually do for her, on her regular drop-in visits while Alice was at work. She thought it sad that a young girl should live alone, with no one to look after her. Alice had only two sets of keys to her flat: one always in her handbag, with her, and the other with her mother, who had left for a four-week Caribbean cruise one week ago. Jess had felt pathetically abandoned.

Collapsing into her armchair, Alice began her daily chat with her unseen friend. “Thank you for this. It is a lovely evening for a sit . . . and a look. Have you had a busy day? I didn’t wash up this morning. I wonder . . . ” She popped into the kitchen and found . . . Yes, all clean and tidy. “Thank you.” she said again. Alice was not insane; she simply had a poltergeist, with her from her teenage years, popping up now and then to keep her company, or to make her laugh with its mischievous antics—hiding or rattling objects, or simply switching on the radio or television without warning.

Suddenly, a ring on her doorbell stirred Alice from her reverie. Her sister, Jess. “What are you doing here? You should have called!”

“Huh!” her sister replied. “I didn’t want to use the key this time, in case you were home. Mum gave it to me before she went. Said you would need looking after.”

The following morning, Alice overslept, having stayed up too late watching television. In the lounge, she found her armchair by the window.


Flash Fiction by Gilly Gates
Picture: unwind by jenny downing under CC BY 2.0
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Red Bottomed Out

She decided when she got there and they ask how it happened, she’d flash that veneered smile, and quip, “Oh, I was just minding my business when . . . ”

But the truth was, she’d twisted her foot because the Red Bottomed heel—which she had ditched most of last month’s rent and groceries to buy—had wedged itself in some ill-placed metallic drainage grill, making a mockery of her peacock-strut down The Avenue.

She’d cocked her head to one side the instant she’d discerned it was happening. “Really? Here? Like this?” She’d wanted to ask. “I have an audition. And a date tomorrow.” More importantly, the shoes were expensive. And she wondered if there would be an unwelcome memento in the form of a scratch. It was a certified State of Emergency. So, she did something she hadn’t done in a while, ever since her break up with Vance.

She bent over.

And yanked. Twisted. And pulled.

Just like with Vance, it was a lot of work. And, just like with Vance, she misjudged her strength and the momentum.

Damn. Those experiences had left her disgruntled and him, panting and limp bizkited. But this time, her mouth formed that coveted O. Blood came to her head in a rush and doe-eyes, destined for to win awards, widened; pupils dilated.

Shit.

It would have been amusing. Even comical. If it weren’t for the fact she was free-falling into a busy street with an onslaught of on-coming vehicles whose drivers wouldn’t recognize any of her C-listed commercials.

Her too-pricey-and-too-high-heel was caught in the vice grip of the dam metal drainage bar in the middle of the pavement. She was free falling into the street. And there was nothing she could do to prevent it.

Snap.

Thud.

Crack.

Those were the sounds of her ankle breaking, her head hitting the pavement and her skull splitting.

She’d never make it to those damn auditions.

“So,” she imagined the angels asking, tapping pen against clipboard. “How’d it happen?”

She’d reconsidered. She wouldn’t bother lying.

And remembering all those antics with Vance, she’d probably end up in the other place anyway.


Flash Fiction by Janelle Alyssa Brouet
Picture: Grate by Kevin Doncaster under CC BY 2.0
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Echo

“You think I look beautiful in this dress, Marie?”

“It is as you say, Miss.”

Both are not beautiful.

Later.

“Marie, you finish cleaning windows?”

I’m too tired to answer; besides, her questions have the soul of an echo.

“Marie, you finish cleaning outside of windows?”

“Yes, Miss.”

I haven’t. I did them two days ago and like always, she won’t notice.

“I walk dog now.”

“You walk dog now?”

I answer by shutting the back door behind me.

Chai, the backcombed Bichon Frise bounces up and down like a ridiculous white cloud. Silent and opinionless, we walk the short distance to the spot where she can do her business. My escape and re-capture take forty minutes.

“I back, Miss!”

“You back? Good, I will take my nap now—I’m very tired.”

The visit to the nail bar this morning must have been exhausting. Still, her daily ritual allows me mine. This is my sacred hour with no demands or empty questions to fill my head. A time to go to my prefabricated cement room outside and do what a daughter of the Philippines does best: sing.

The music and my voice bounce around my sanctum, each song bringing me closer to my daughter back home; the reason I am here in a foreign country. I know not if my tears are for joy or sadness, but they are, nevertheless, welcome companions.

Saving Cindi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ to last, I empty my lungs and my heart.

Five minutes later, a knock at my door and, “You collect Mei from school bus?”

I don’t answer; she knows I will.

Stepping off the bus, Mai slips her tiny hand into mine and her cute moon face looks up to me.

“You give me dinner?”

“Yes, little Miss, I’ll give you dinner.”


Flash Fiction by Steve Richardson
Picture: The Voice by Andy Morffew under CC BY 2.0
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Piggy

My lungs deserve less than this air. The trees exhale into every gasping breath I take, soothing raw copper lungs. But I’m staring into the puddles along my hike with envy. I’m pitying myself for this, for trying to get fit. I want to feel my body bogged down in the mud. A shriek pierces through, and it sounds human until it doesn’t.

I swing my head around to find the source. Squinting, I see a brand-new baby boar. It’s way too close to me. I walk as fast as I can to get away. It’s limping after me, its hind leg broken. Where is the mother? I can’t risk being near this thing. I run, but I’m already exhausted. I can’t do this. The piglet is bleeding. It’s so small. And still wailing.

I stare at it and shriek right back. I hope I say please stop following me in Boar. An immense sow walks up behind the piglet, blood dripping from her mouth. I turn and run. She doesn’t follow but I knew she wouldn’t. She is finishing what she started, and my stomach turns at the sound.


Flash Fiction by Dylan Gauche
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Which?

Scott stared back at Benjamin and Becky, snuggled and sleeping soundly in their car seats. In that moment, the future felt close, as if it were sitting in the car beside him.

A son . . .
Legos. Lincoln Logs. Cub Scouts. Little League.

A daughter . . .
Dress up. Makeup. Tea parties. Plush pink animal friends.

A son . . .
The bittersweet man-to-little-man talk. Explaining that broken hearts do mend. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week. But that someday, he’d be able to see her in the hall, and not feel his heart in his throat.

A daughter . . .
Trying to remain stoic. Trying to contain the butterflies. Trying to wave casually, bravely, as she left on her first car date.

A son . . .
Jumping up and down, screaming. Cheering along with forty thousand other fans. Watching him circle the bases after hitting the home run that won the World Series.

A daughter . . .
Walking her down the aisle. Kissing his baby girl’s cheek. Giving her hand to a fine young man, who would promise to love, honor, and obey.

As the muddy waters of the river rose, engulfing the car—his time running out—the present overtook the future and demanded an answer.

Which one?


Flash Fiction by Michael Seese
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