I didn’t do last week’s flash fiction challenge on terribleminds.com. I know, naughty me but I was determined to get back on the horse and take part in this week’s challenge Death is on the Table, where the subject of the flash fiction challenge is death.
Put simply the challenge this week is…
“You have 1000 words to write a short story that prominently features death. What that means is up to you, of course. And genre is also in your court.”
The genre is a little ambiguous. It’s a sort or supernatural, super-hero detective thing. If you like it let me know, if you hate it let me know, and I look forward to reading your comments.
Max’s body lay still, not breathing, bordered by the puddle of blood slowly creeping across the warehouse floor. Max opened his eyes and sat up trying to focus, his breathing returning to him in short gasps.
Max had already died twelve times, and even though every death had been different and painful in its own way, he was always left cold, dizzy, nauseous and scrabbling to remember any details about how he died. Then his heart would restart an off-rhythm samba thumping in his chest, bringing a shooting pain with every beat. Max was married, he had been for three years, to Elaine. She had often asked about his day but Max had never told her the truth. Max wasn’t sure that ‘Hi Honey, sorry I’m a bit out of sorts but I was decapitated today and feel a bit off’ was not going to go without at least a few questions.
In this case how he died wasn’t difficult to figure out. There was a burned hole in his shirt, a lot of now quite dry and crusty blood and a shell casing littered the floor near where his body was laying.
‘Attempted murder again’ Max grumbled to himself as he stood up and saw just how much of his own blood had soaked into his shirt. ‘…and another topless walk through the city. Perfect!’ he said screwing up his shirt and throwing it into the corner. Max used to stash clothes at various points in the city for situations just like this, but he found that the local homeless were better at finding his clothes than he was at hiding them.
In a tidal wave of thought and emotion, a few details of his recent death flooded his mind. The memories were starting to return but they were vague and disjointed. There was a man, wearing black and he was pointing a gun at max. What type of gun he wasn’t sure, gun identification was just another thing in a long list of skills he thought would be useful for him to know but had never got round to learning.
The memory of his death got stronger; he heard a gunshot, felt a searing pain and then remembered falling to the floor. ‘Wow, that was fun.’ Max said to himself sarcastically.
‘So why did someone try, and more importantly succeed in killing me?’ He’d met more than a few people who just wanted to kill him to prove that he was a freak, but this was different. In fact nothing about this made sense, why would he come to a place like this? It must have been for a case, but which one? Max paced around the warehouse, kicking up the dust as he walked.
‘A case? What case was I on?’ Max’s thoughts spilled out of his mouth. He stopped and looked up, ‘That’s it. Someone was being threatened, and I was trying to protect them.’
‘So I confronted the armed man, to stop him hurting someone? ‘ Max clutched on to his head as his brain began to ache from the memory void he was trying to struggle through. ‘Hang On.’ A thought ran through Max’s mind, the look on the armed man’s face he was surprised.
‘The man was just as surprised about the gunshot as I was. So the man with the gun wasn’t my killer. Max’s eyes were wide as his brain tried to understand the new information. There was something gold glinting on the armed man. What was it? A disc or medal… It was a badge, a police badge. ‘Holy Crap! A cop was there. He must have helped me with the case. Ok, well at least I’m getting somewhere.’
Max relived his death again in his head, but this time as he lay on the ground he picked up on something, a voice. It must have been the cop’s voice. ‘He’s down, we have to get… here right now or… won’t make it… before… arrive’ the voice faded in and out as his memory flickered.
‘So cops are on the way?’ he thought, and that was Max’s cue to exit. The last thing Max wanted now in his half amnesic state was to answer some very tricky questions from a cop who saw him gunned down yet now scarcely had a scratch on him.
‘So who was my latest killer?’ Max asked himself. ‘Come one, think! There’s got to be more in there’ Max knocked on his head as if the answers themselves would open a little door in his head and let him in. The cop’s words ran through his mind again and again, each time with less interference until he heard the complete sentence.
‘He’s down, we have to get out of here right now or we won’t make it out of here before the real cops arrive.’’
‘Real cops? The cop wasn’t a real cop? Did I know he wasn’t a real cop? I guess I would if he was pulling a gun on me.’ Another piece of the memory puzzle slotted into place and for the first time he remembered that it was he was the one holding the gun. Max was pointing the gun at the cop. ‘. OK, so I definitely knew he was a bent cop, and I must have been shot in the back but I still don’t underst…’
Max stopped mid-sentence as the scent of a very familiar perfume diffused through the memories of the event. He remembered falling to the ground after being shot, and sensing something. Something that at the time had given him an unconscious comfort but now in retrospect made him feel very uneasy. It was the scent of a perfume that Max had smelled every day for over three years.
Max stopped dead in his tracks, the truth numbing him and forcing him still. ‘My god, Elaine? Why?’