Flash Fiction: Lucky Lady Robes

Note: Generally, I save fiction over 500 words  for paying markets, but every once and a while, I write an odd story like this that just doesn’t fit in most markets. 

Lucky Lady Robes

By Sara Codair

In-home sales and independent consultant programs had been around forever, but none took off like Lucky Lady Robes. They hadn’t even been in business a year, and in some parts of the southwest, traditional stores struggled to keep customers. Up here in the northeast, that spark was just hitting the kindling.

“Now is the time to sign up, if I am going,” I told my friend, Lucy. Swaddled in brown scarves and blonde hair, she looked like a calico cat trying to be a human.

“I’ve only heard good things about them.” Lucy lifted a steaming mug to her mouth, breathing the steam until if fogged up her glasses.

“People don’t want to get sued,” I muttered into my Darjeeling tea. Still too hot to drink, I placed it on the table and re-read my contract for the tenth time. Something about the 80% wholesale discount and optimistic market analysis for my area seemed to good to be true, but all that the convoluted, red-inked document really told me was that I couldn’t get a refund, ever, and that if I defaced the company’s sacred brand image, they would burn me in court.

“You can’t keep bad news off the internet.” Lucy’s hands shook as she tilted her latte to her mouth and sipped. “Trust me, if there was something sketchy, someone would’ve said something about.”

“I’ll do more research.”

“If you do become a consultant, I’ll be your first customer.” Lucy grinned, put her mug down, and looked me in the eyes. “This is a golden opportunity. You’d be foolish to waste it.”

###

IMG_3031My first shipment of Lucky Lady Robes came in super quick. I was giddy, fluttering like magic as I tore open the box and inhaled fresh plastic. I rescued a pair of leggings from their transparent prison and ran my hands over the softest fabric I’d ever felt. My fingers quivered with joy as I traced corn silk swirls through the grass green background. I didn’t realize until I reached the end that I had smeared blood all over that pair.

Cursing my clumsiness, I ran to the sink and rinsed my sliced palm. I guessed I cut myself during my exuberant box opening. I bandaged my hand and liberated the remaining leggings. The colors varied, but they all had strange geometric shapes. Some had cat eyes. One pair had suns so realistic I thought they’d burn me if I touched them. I carefully hung each pair on my display, photographed them, and transferred them to a bright pink rack.

I uploaded my pictures to Facebook and had my first sale that night. Half my inventory was gone in three hours, but true to her word, Lucy bought the first pair.

The next morning, she wore the black and red, geometric beauties to our weekly coffee date.

Lucy gazed at the ceiling, walls, and floor, but she never made eye contact. “They’re as heavenly as pajamas, but it’s socially acceptable to wear them to work. Have you tried them yet?”

“No,” I admitted. “I had to pay for my inventory up front and didn’t have much to invest.”

She laughed at me. Her cheeks creased when her mouth opened, but her eyes stayed absent. “Trust me, you need a pair or ten for yourself. I can’t wait for your next sale.”

###

IMG_3032Lucy bought three pairs at my second sale, and five at my third. Soon, all of our friends were buying, sharing, and tweeting about how comfortable their new leggings were.

I aw dollar signs left and right.

The dresses came next. The sweaters and shirts rode their tails to my inventory. The colors and styles varied, but they all had equally mesmerizing patterns, which, paired with luxurious fabric, enchanted customers.

I thought my inner circle would stop buying after a while, but they didn’t stop. These clothes were like crack and my friends were viral junkies, spreading their addiction to everyone around them.

After a year, I paid off my student loans, bought a house, and upgraded my car. Lucy was on the verge of losing her house, another friend was working 80 hours a week to pay down her credit card debt while a third was getting calls from collection agencies several times a day.

I told them to stop buying. I had a big enough fan-base now that even if a fraction of my customers bought from me at every sale, I’d be making more than I ever did selling cell phones. They didn’t stop – not even when I blocked them from my group and ignored their phone calls.

It was this strange, desperate behavior that led me to start researching the patterns. After venturing into dark corners of internet I hadn’t known existed, I learned that the symbols were from ancient cultures all around the world: sigils old gods used to keep follows worshipping.

I’ve never been superstitious and didn’t believe that symbols could influence anyone, but I was offended. What Lucky Lady Robes claimed as original artwork was appropriated from old religions that been all but wiped out by historic colonizers and conquerors. I blogged about this, hoping it would make people see through the company’s schemes.

Literally three minutes later, I had an email from corporate headquarters informing me that I violated the contract. Six days passed. I was assigned a court date. I hired a lawyer, thinking the worst that could happen was I’d lose my profits and go back to selling phones.

I lost the case, but I never got to hear how much the fine was. Buttery soft leggings had twined all around my limbs and up to my head. Sound couldn’t get through the thick fabric. No one heard me scream when they caught on fire.

 

 

Micro Fiction: Are We Like the Phoenix? 

Are We Like the Phoenix?

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The above image is made from two free stock photos from Unsplash.

“This little venture of yours has got out of hand.” Gracen sat next to the ships wooden helm even though they weren’t steering.

“That doesn’t mean I can stop.” Lisbeth removed her burnt goggles and brushed pieces of ash off of her leather pants.

Gracen closed brown their eyes and pinched the bridge of their nose. “But volcanoes? You can’t fix anything if you’re dead.”

Through the porthole Lisbeth only saw gray – fog and ash blended into a pasty haze that forced them to rely on technology to navigate or to stay put and hope their regular horn blasts kept someone else form crashing into them.

The fog came and went, but the ash stayed.

Even though her and Gracen were making progress towards the equator, it still seemed like the frequency with which they encountered bergs cubes had increased.

“I only get one shot. I need to be certain.” Lisbeth rubbed the round edge of their gold stopwatch. Even over the rhythmic growl of the ships engine, Lisbeth heard thousands of micro gears churning away. Of all the arcane devices she possessed, this one was the most powerful.

“You think it will work?” Gracen ran his hands through graying hair. He wasn’t even thirty, but like most of the surviving humans, he looked twice his age.

“It has to.” Lisbeth had been on land six times this month. She hadn’t run into another living person, and as far as she could tell from the instruments, they’d only passed two other ships.

Time travel was humanity’s last hope.

Flash Fiction:The Purrrfect Crime

Generally, when I write cat stories for Cracked Flash Fiction Competition, they don’t win. Sometimes, I write cat stories anyways.

The Purrrfect Crime

By Sara Codair

“I taught you to pick locks and this is how you use that skill?” Grandma gaped at me, gourd-shaped eyes enlarged by her glasses.

I shrugged.

“Our family has a reputation to uphold!”

My cheeks burned. I relinquished eye contact and stared at my sneakers. There was a hole in the tongue, and a piece of sole peeped out from under my toes.

“You have nothing to say for yourself?”

“She was cold and hungry.”

“A lot of people are cold and hungry,” spat Grandma.

“But she was so skinny, like her kittens were sucking the life right out of her!”

Grandma shook her head. “You could have at least taken something useful while you were in there. They have to keep all their donations somewhere.”

“But they need those.” The locked cashbox had been tempting. I’d even picked it up and gotten halfway to the door before a black tom ghosted out of the shadows and sliced my calf open with his claws. I stared into his yellow eyes forever before placing the metal box back on the ground. He nudged my hand once then purred over to the hungry mother and kittens I’d snuck into the shelter.

I left the cash box where it was, and placed a few coins and note on top of it, asking them to use my small donation to help the new mom and her kittens.

Grandma glared at the post on FriendlyFelineFriday. It read “You’ll Never Believe What Happened on this Break-in!”

“Your mom was the best jewel thief in the country,” muttered Grandma, “And you use the family trade to sneak cats into shelters.”

“Yup.”

Grandma continued to rant, and I endured it. Our reputation in the underworld could go to hell. I saved a family of cats.

Micro Fiction: What Comes Out of the Ground

Here is another bit of micro fiction inspired by Cracked Flash’s weekly prompt. This one was a runner up.

What Comes Out of the Ground

By Sara Codair

“My flesh is clothed with worms and a crust of dirt,” I said, shuddering on the doorstep. The open door loomed over me, black and peeling, like the mouth of an ancient monster waiting to swallow me whole.

“Stop being dramatic,” muttered my mother. “Just make sure you wipe your feet before you go inside. I don’t want my floor ‘clothed’ in that shit.”

I brushed the flecks of brown off my clothing, pulled a wriggling worm out my hair, and rubbed the soles of my sneakers on the emoji door mat. I stepped inside, staring at immaculate white tile and paint, so clean it glowed. The floor creaked behind me. The door slammed shut.

“Please shower before you touch anything.” She shuffled past me, putting more weight on her cane than I remembered during my last visit.

Taking baby steps, I made my way to the powder room where I washed my hands, stripped out of my  muddy clothing, put it in a trash bag, and got in the shower. I covered myself in a lather of soap and let the water rush over my skin until it looked like it belonged to a living human, not a zombie.

I got dressed, brought my soiled clothing to my car, and found my mother sitting on her front porch.

“Thank you for helping out,” she said. “We got good harvest. Those potatoes should last until the spring.”

New Micro Fiction: Padded Walls

Note: As some of you know, I often participate in a weekly writing contest called “Cracked Flash Fiction Competition.” The following piece won this week. I owe this weeks judge, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, a big thank you for catching my typos and still choosing my story in spite of the,.

Padded Walls

By Sara Codair

“When this is over, I want my sanity back,” said Elena as matter-of-factly as one could say anything when wearing a straightjacket in a padded room.

The padded walls spread their crusty purple lips, revealing row upon row of pointy yellow teeth and laughed.

“I mean it.” She waggled her pointer finger at the ceiling.

“Who says it will ever be over?” The wall’s lips cracked as it spoke.

“Who said I was talking to you,” retorted Elena, tearing her eyes away from the ceiling so she could glare at the wall.

Black blood dripped out of the wall’s cracked lip, trickling down to the floor. “No one leaves here alive.”

Elena laughed. The sound was harsher, more maniacal than it had been two weeks ago.

“You do not believe?” asked the wall.

“You’re the reason I’m here.” She crouched down, wriggling in the straightjacket that was not nearly as tight as the orderlies thought, thankful for all the months she’d trained prior to taking this assignment.

“You can’t do that,” said the wall.

Elena arched one eyebrow as she shrugged off the jacket and used it to wipe up the black blood.

The wall opened its mouth and screamed. Elena didn’t flinch. It inhaled, sucking in air so hard her hair blew towards its maw. She closed her eyes, cleared her mind of the all the drug-induced hallucinations she’d had during her stay Frommington Hospital, waiting for the wall to show its true face.

She whispered words of power in the ancient tongue. The blood soaked jacket caught fire. The wall screamed as it burned with the jacket. The door opened as orderlies rushed in to put out the fire. Elena charged through them and strolled out of the burning hospital like she owned the place.

Micro Fiction: The Importance of a Clean Windshield

The Importance of a Clean Windshield

By Sara Codair

“Scrape that off before you make the jump.” Dad’s voice crackled through the com. Like everything Iris’ family owned, it was utterly obsolete.

He faded to static. Iris imagined him lecturing her on the dangers of bringing organic, terrestrial material, like pollen and bird shit, into hyperspace.

“Will do,” she said before turning on her craft’s wipers. Just to be safe, she set to the whole ship vibrating.

“Make sure you don’t miss anything,” crackled Dad.

“I love you, Dad. I’ll be fine, and I’ll let you know as soon as I revert to real time.” Iris punched the coordinates for Great Red Eight. She was going to be attending university there and studying materials engineering, but as she prepped for light speed, all she could think about was the party scene, and what it would finally be like to make a life for herself away from her family’s antiques and eccentricities.

As the home-made hyper drive hummed to life and the stars stretched into lines in her space-craft’s windshield, Iris couldn’t help thinking of each glowing streak as a potentially awesome path her life could take. With hope brewing in her brain, Iris set an alarm to wake her shortly before reverting to real time and drifted off to sleep.

***

Iris woke to urgent beeping. It wasn’t the alarm she set, but one alerting her to premature real-time reversion. Blinking sleep away, she stared at the controls, holding her breath until she realized she was only seconds away from her planned reversion point.

“That could’ve been worse,” she sighed, adjusting her course.

The ship hit resistance that shouldn’t exist in space. She peered through the view screens. A giant Osprey was pushing her craft away from Red Eight.

“So much for escaping eccentricity,” she muttered before radioing for emergency assistance.

Micro Fiction: Mr. Meowsker’s Bright Idea

Here is a little story, inspired by a prompt from Cracked Flash, to start your week:

Mr. Meowsker’s Bright Idea

By Sara Codair

“You’re my favorite monster,” said Annnaly, running her fingers over Gruffer’s fluffy face. Her black cat, Meowsker’s, was perched on here shoulder. He leaned forward licked the bridge of Gruffer’s nose.

Gruffer made a noise – a cross between a grunt and a huff. It was the only sound he ever made, but Annnaly imagined that if he was capable of human speech, he would be saying “Was?”

Nerves twined through her chest like poison ivy. She leaned her forehead against his, cupping his flat face in her hands. “The government says I can’t keep you. The made monster collections illegal. They…they want me to put you down.”

Tears streamed out of Annnaly’s eyes, dragging a river of black and blue cosmetic sludge from her face to Gruffer’s. She held his face, sobbing, not caring that Mr. Meowsker climbed off of her and onto Gruffer. She didn’t know what he did until she felt two enormous paws patting her back.

Looking up, she saw Mr. Meowsker proudly perched on Gruffer’s hear with his restrains dangling from his mouth. A smile cracked across her lips. “You brilliant feline.”

Mr. Meowsker purred like a motorcycle.

When the inspectors came to make sure Annnaly, the lady with the largest monster collection on the planet, had put down all her monsters, they were greeted by a hoard of hungry teeth and claws, not the taxidermied monster-corpses they expected.

Annaly wanted to taxidermy the inspectors and keep them as trophies, mementos from the first day of the coup, but there was literally nothing left by the time the monsters were done with them.

Micro Fiction: Solicitation

Here is another fun snippet of micro fiction that started with on of Cracked Flash’s prompts.  This story was a runner up in the Year 2, Week 30 competition.

Solicitation

By Sara Codair

“Like pain? Try wearing high heels,” she said slipping one nylon clad foot into a glittering stiletto. The way her long fingers danced the laces around her ankle up her calf made me think that my eyes were supposed to be following her hands up her leg, possible further, but I was more interested in the heels.

“What would you say if I told you I had worn heels, and loved them?” I risked eye contact just long enough to make her think I was interested in her body, then returned my gaze to the shoes.

“I’d say you were a kinky fellow.” She lifted her leg in the air, probably trying to get me to look up her skirt, but it was the perfect opportunity to see what size the shoes were.

An 8.5. Just one size too small. I sighed, reached into my pocket and fingered the bills there. “I’ll pay you for two hours if you tell me where you got those shoes.”

“I’ll show you,” she said and pulled me closer.

I backed away. “I’m serious. I have no interest in your services. Just your shoes. I’ll pay you, and you can spend the two hours doing whatever you like. I was going to buy your pair off of you, but they won’t fit.”

“For real?” she asked sitting up straight and folding her legs.

“For real,” I said taking a couple fifties out of my wallet.

“Stella’s boutique, on the corner of 6th and Rockland. Tell her Caty sent you. She’ll give you a deal.”

I handed her the money, left the hotel room and hailed cab, feeling like I was one step closer to finding the holy grail of high heels.

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© Sara Codair 2017

Micro Fiction: Migratory Blues

Here is another little story from Cracked Flash – this one was a runner up.

Migratory Blues

By Sara Codair

They unfurled their wings, shifted their weight and lifted off the rotting branch. Fuz smiled as the north wind hit their face. It was damp and mild, a sure sign spring had arrived in mid-regions. Circling high above the mud-sodden earth, they searched for one last southern meal.

They dove when they spotted slow movement – a tiny rodent whose legs were getting sucked in with every step. Within in seconds, the little critter was in Fuz’s claws, being carried back to the their nest.

After a hearty, albeit muddy meal, Fuz sprayed the nest with their scent and flew north.

#

Three days later, Fuz arrived to the mid realms, only to find the ground there had already turned to claw sucking mud. Their stomach grumbled as they circled over mud and water. They plucked an eel out of a pond and perched on a damp rock to eat it, but it wriggled all the way down.

Each year, it seemed the mid-realms spring got closer to that of the southern realms.

Fuz signed, flapped their tired wings and was airborne once again, hoping the north was having an early spring too, or else he would freeze to death.

#

Touching down in the north, Fuz was glad to have solid ground beneath their claw’s. The sun was shining, and prey animals were scurrying about – a living buffet. They feasted on rodents, lizards and insects until their belly felt like it would burst. Then they found a solid tree branch – one they noted was still devoid of leaves, and sprawled out for a nap in the sun.

Later, the howling wind woke them. The sun was gone, and frost coated the edges of their feathers and beak. They stood, struggling to take off, but the wind was too strong and cold.

A win on Cracked Flash with “Survival 101”

Cracked Flash’s writing prompts have been part of my weekly writing routine on and off for about a year now. Over the summer, I had stopped writing for them because I was judging. They had a brief hiatus in the fall. When they started up, it took me a few weeks to work in back into the routine. The few pieces I wrote were political rants pretending to be stories. Last week, I wrote a real story, and it won.

Here is it:

Survival 101

By Sara Codair

“Try a different one.” Joe frowned as the wriggling worm fell into the bucket of dirt.

I arched my eyebrows. “A worm is a worm.”

“The fat ones are juicier and slower. Easier to hook, more likely to attract fish.”

I sighed. “I don’t even like fish.”

“Would you rather eat the worm?”

“I’d rather eat nuts berries.” I gazed at the sun glistening on deep blue, vibrant leaves with orange-tinted tips and wispy seeds forming atop grass.

“Those’ll be hard to come by next month.” Joe dug weathered fingers into the bucket, pulling out a short worm barely able to wriggle, and handed it to me. “You want to survive, don’t you?”

“I used to be vegan.” My stomach wriggled like the obese worm, half-heartedly threatening to eject raspberries.

Joe’s laughter shook the remains of his shrunken belly. “Just hook the damned worm.”

Despite its protest, my stomach knew food was hard to come by, and held the berries while I jabbed the rusty, barbed metal into the worm, scrunching it like I was forcing a new curtain onto an old rod.

“That’s the spirit. Plant your feet and cast like I showed you.”

I obeyed. My tortured worm plopped into the shimmery blue. I watched the ripples grow as they approached shore. “What now?”

“Now we wait.” Joe lowered his raisen-like body onto a silvery rock. “We wait and we pray.”

I nodded, but remained standing. Winged-insects flittered across the water close to shore. A water-strider fell victim to a frog blending his body with a rotten log. A dragon fly landed on my nose, its wings tickling a smile out of my face. The last scientist I met said the human population might never recover. Nature, though, was doing just fine.

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See the original post here: http://crackedflash.blogspot.com/2017/02/year-2-week-25-results.html#comment-form