False Harvest

Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Ten words will give you five. This challenge let you choose five of the following ten words:

  1. Library
  2. Ethereal
  3. Dolphin
  4. Replay
  5. Undertaker
  6. Storm
  7. Envelope
  8. Cube
  9. Chisel
  10. Satellite

I used a random number generator to select for me: storm, cube, replay, envelope, and chisel. Those words have led to the culmination you find below.

False Harvest

Dave placed the bloody chisel on the counter and stared at it. The waves of adrenaline begin to subside as he fought to regain his composure. With shaky hands he retrieved an envelope from his jacket pocket and pressed it into Mike’s sweaty palm.

“Find what you were looking for?” Mike asked.

Dave didn’t respond with words. His eyes had been fixated on the chisel and now he raised his head to meet Mike’s gaze. He searched Mike’s face for any signs of judgment that would increase the feelings of guilt now building in his guts. Not seeing any, Dave diverted his eyes again to the chisel.

“Yeah, you weren’t supposed to bring that out,” Mike said as he draped a towel over the tool.

“I kinda forgot it was in my hand,” Dave replied.

“Stupid mistake.”

“What’s done is done,” Dave snapped.

Dave now met Mike’s gaze with fierce intensity. He stared into Mike’s eyes, searching for something. He studied his pupils in the fluorescent lighting for answers. Something wasn’t right but his head wouldn’t clear up enough to process it. His heartbeat was still pounding in his ears. Mike looked away.

“Same time next week?” Mike asked, seemingly trying to dismiss this encounter.

Dave turned and left the Cube Shop without a reply. The cool night air felt good on his hot face. He lit a Newport and inhaled deeply, letting the nicotine do its work as he walked the half-block to his car. He slid into the driver’s seat of the Chevy Malibu and sat there in silence as his mind began the task of replaying the events of the night.

The holographic cubes had become a weekly ritual for Dave. It was his way to escape without having to get wasted; however, after tonight’s events, getting wasted didn’t seem like a bad idea. He always logged into his Cube Shop account by Wednesday to order his program for Friday night and this week was no exception. He arrived just before seven o’clock, anticipation already building. The escapes, as he liked to think of them, were getting more and more intense as his boldness grew.

This escape had begun as he passed through the cube’s entrance and found himself standing in a torrential downpour. He had included the storm in this escape because it just seemed to fit. The rain would quiet his approach and distract him from any second guessing. He stood on the front walk of his house, watching the way the lights from within were illuminating his well manicured lawn and the flowerbeds his wife endlessly labored over.

He walked around the side of the house and through the gate into the backyard. He’d purposely left the details of his dog out of the program so there was no risk in running into a canine distraction.

Dave recalled entering the tool shed behind the house and surveying the options for his task. The shiny surface of the Lie Neilson chisels had glimmered in the trace amounts of light that penetrated the darkness of the shed. He had grabbed the half inch one and headed to the back door. When Dave ascended the back steps, he took note of the bags of mulch he’d picked up the day before. If his wife had thought it was so damned urgent that he get them, why were they still sitting there unopened? He then opened the back door and entered the kitchen. The smell of ground beef simmering in a skillet on the stove washed over him. He could smell it again now. He shut the kitchen door quickly but quietly to block out the sound of the rain. He remembered feeling angry that he had overlooked that while the rain would dampen the sound of his movements through the house, it would not dampen its own noise in an open doorway.

Dave stood still for a second and actively forced all doubt from his mind. He walked into the living room and found his wife sitting on the couch with her back to him. His eyes were drawn to her neckline. He had planned to drive the chisel deep into that spot. He was about to move when his phone rang.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” Lisa said, turning to face him. “You’re soaking wet! Get off the rug!” she yelled.

All Dave remembered thinking at this point was why the fuck is she talking? He specifically mentioned that she was not to speak in this program.

“What are you doing with that?” she asked in a softer voice, looking at the chisel in his hand.

He lunged at her. She ran. He was on her in a flash and repeatedly drove the chisel into the middle of her back.

He stood over her lifeless body and tried to catch his breath. He was a little shocked how easy it had been to end her. His body lunged forward and he vomited on the floor next to her.

“End program,” he yelled. He was standing at the cube’s entrance again with a rush of emotions pulsing through his whole body.

Dave lit another cigarette and tried to make sense of what was bugging him. It suddenly became clear. If he ordered the program on Wednesday, and didn’t pick up the mulch until Thursday, why the hell was it in his damned program? Why did his wife speak to him when he had specifically omitted that capability?

He decided this couldn’t go the night unanswered and he exited the car. He walked toward the Cube Shop intent on demanding a replay of his program and some god damned answers. As he approached the shop door, he realized the lights were off. Did the bastards close he wondered? He stood in front of the shop with his mouth open wide as he looked up at the sign above the door.

“Mike’s Hardware.”

3 thoughts on “False Harvest

  1. Interesting. A bit on the predictable side, which says something for 1000 words, but well played. If I were to write it (and I didn’t), it might draw out the gore a bit, to really drive home his dementia. But hey, what do I know?;) Great story!

  2. Cool bit of fiction. Reminded me of Philip K. Dick’s ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’ and definitely had a Total Recall vibe to it, but for a flash-fiction it was very immersive and gripping. I think if you proof-read it a few times, trying to see it anew each time, you might find small ways to improve it (having Dave ‘search’ Mike’s face twice in close paragraphs was a little repetitive and could have been smoother) but overall, not bad for a first flash-fic. I think you’ll definitely improve the more you write!

  3. I liked this a lot! I agree with Mr. Urban Spaceman that your language could be a little more deft, but keep going. I noticed on Chuck’s blog that you said you always wanted to write and just put it off, but when it comes to what your true passions are, there is no such thing as “too late.”

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