I hope ya’ll have been having a great summer! I know I have! I’m currently reading Brave New World, the next book on my list, which I can’t wait to write about here, it’s that good!
But before I get to that (and also because I haven’t finished it yet), I’d like to share a short story I wrote for a flash fiction challenge. The author Chuck Wendig runs a superb and hilarious writing blog at terribleminds.com, and periodically he puts out a flash fiction challenge. This latest challenge was to write a short story of no more than 2,000 words combining two subgenres of the 20 that he listed. Using a random number generator I got “body horror” and “creature feature”. These are definitely two genres that I do not have experience with, but I thought it’d be good practice to accept the challenge anyway! I know they’re not exactly sci-fi, but in the spirit of this blog I tried to give the story at least a hint of sci-fi-ness.
Below is the result of that attempt! Please enjoy The Creature. (I know, I’m so good at titles.)
“I didn’t see it myself at first, but I saw the man in front of me see it. I don’t know which was worse. The sheer horror on his face when he saw it, a look I’ll never forget, or the crushing panic in my heart when I saw it.”
“Please just explain it to us from the beginning, Captain.”
“Oh, right. Well, it all started on the bus. I was sitting in a rear-facing single seat near the front. It was so hot and humid. One of those really sticky, icky, gross days. My dress was sticking to my body, and I could feel every single drop of sweat rolling down my back, soaking my underwear. All the windows were open, but it didn’t matter. Each and every passenger was just suffering in the heat. It was the kind of heat that zaps all your energy immediately. Everywhere I looked I saw droopy eyelids, droopy heads.”
“So the AC wasn’t turned on?”
“No, not at all. I’m telling you, it was hell.”
“Okay, please, continue.”
“There was a man in a blue suit sitting nearby paying no heed at all to his fellow passengers. He was reading the paper as if he were still sitting at his breakfast table all spread out. I knew something was up then. He was in a three-piece suit barely breaking a sweat.
“Can you describe that…man?”
“Definitely. He was so strange. He had a really thin, long head with round, protruding eyes and small, round glasses. He was tall, lanky. All limbs, ya know? A rather small nose and a big bushy mustache.
“And at this point, you still had the package with you?”
“Yes. I did.”
“Yea, so I was just thinking to myself how utterly strange that man looked. I realize now that it was his proportions that were all wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time. That’s when I heard the first crash.”
“At precisely 8:15 a.m.?”
“Yes. I had just looked at my watch.”
“What happened after the crash?”
“The ground shook, shaking the bus with it. The bus swerved so hard to the left we almost crashed into the mountainside. My nose was inches from the rock. A standing passenger fell against me, apologizing profusely. You can bet every single pair of droopy eyes was suddenly wide awake. The bus driver kept driving, though. I should’ve realized then that it was weird he didn’t ask if his passengers were okay. But I was so shaken at the moment that the thought didn’t occur to me.”
“And at 8:21 a.m. the second shake?”
“Yes. A loud, thunderous crash and then the ground shook violently again. Then a crack light lightning. I looked out my window and the concrete road had cracked, was cracking right under the bus! I saw the crack fly backwards on the road, and the bus veered to the right to avoid falling in.”
“And here you still had the package?”
“Yes! I had the package the whole time!”
“Okay, fine. And the third crack?”
“Right after. The third crack is what did us in. A web of cracks appeared all around us that the driver just couldn’t avoid. The bus toppled over onto its side. All of us left-siders fell onto the right-siders. I felt so bad for them, crushed under all our weight, smushed against broken glass. A bunch of glass from my side fell onto us too, though. The bus skidded on its side for what seemed like an eternity. Slowly, everyone started to stir, trying to escape from the mangled metal. I pulled myself up with the bus poles…”
“Captain, please continue.”
“…Then it was like a nightmare. A nightmare wrapped in an even worse nightmare. The man in front of me was also pulling himself up from the mess of people. That’s when I saw him see it. His face went from pain to struggle to disbelief to horror in two seconds flat. Then another crash and crack. I was so afraid to turn but I had to see it. And there it was. Godzilla on steroids. Every step shook the Earth.”
“In the mountain pass?”
“Yes! Every step it took crashed down on the rocks, debris flew everywhere, the guy next to me got a boulder to the face. We’re lucky it didn’t step on us! Then I heard a scream behind me. I turned around and saw the odd man in the blue suit crawling out of the jumble of people…only…his arms and legs…I knew there was something wrong with him from the beginning.”
“What happened to the man in the blue suit?”
“His arms and legs…had become so long that he was crawling around like a spider, elbows and knees way up in the air. And he just…crawled away after the monster. I’m sure you can get DNA from the site.”
“The bus driver?”
“Yea, the bus driver too.”
“Captain, where is the package now?”
“Probably nearing the core of the Earth.”
Here, the Interrogator motioned to his assistant in the corner of the dark room. The assistant stepped forward, handing the Interrogator a thin brown package.
“Wh-where did you get that? I…th-thought I lost it.”
“Did you, Captain? We recovered it.”
“At the site?”
“At the site.”
“…Well that’s just great. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved in my life.”
“I’m not sure you are relieved, Captain.”
“You know I-“
“No. In fact, I’m sure you aren’t, Captain. I believe you left the package behind deliberately. What a perfect opportunity to pretend you lost it, after all, mass destruction and all.”
“Wh-what? That’s insane! You’ve seen the creatures and th-the destruction. I’m not making this up!”
The Interrogator motioned once again to his assistant. The tall man stepped forward silently, taking hold of the Captain. His grip was surprisingly strong.
“Let me go! What are you doing? This is crazy! It was an accident, I swear! I had the package with me the whole time!”
The assistant dragged the Captain out of the interrogation room, despite her best writhing and wriggling efforts. She looked up at him. He was…stoic and pale, unusually tall. Then she looked around. Where had they taken her? The dark metal hallway was sparsely lit with a few creaky hanging lamps. Doors, heavy doors, adorned only with one small window each lined both sides. The assistant stopped in front of one.
“You can’t lock me in here! HELP! SOMEBODY HELP!”
With his index finger the assistant unlocked the heavy door.
“Wh-what are you?!”
And threw the Captain into the dank cell, slamming the door shut.
“HELP! HELP ME! SOMEBODY LET ME OUT OF HERE!” The Captain banged on the door.
Behind her, she heard a light pitter patter of footsteps. Holding her breath, she turned. It was the thing in the blue suit.