Three Flash Pieces from Writing Prompts


Demons walk our streets. Few of them look inhuman, and most of that group can cover it up with a hat or a baggy coat or baggy pants. What they can’t do, however, is drive a car.

A train or a bus will not reject a demon. No one knows if it’s too difficult for a vehicle to detect a demon among too many people, or if they just can’t throw out the bathwater without ejecting the baby with it. But this is why subways and buses have a smell all their own.

So the next time someone insists that they love the T and would never drive in this city, remember that not all of them are worried about parking and traffic and absent street signs and rotaries and one-way streets.

Behind her the noise escalated. It took her a while to hear it, although her dog perked up before it approached even a whisper. The noise’s slow escalation continued to go unnoticed even when it reached a quiet ringing; she heard it merely as that sound a silent house makes to keep itself entertained. But in a few minutes the sound had reached the level where it could not be denied that something was something. She walked through her house, her dog cautiously behind her legs, until she located the source of what had become a harsh, angular wail. There, between her washer and drier, a hole in the air was widening. A glorious, bright light shone out of the rift, and as the wail became a scream she could see a glowing face peering through, blinking rapidly. Something beautiful is being born into this world, she thought. And it is not happy about it.

[This story’s prompt was to use a word someone else had invented. In this case it’s “perkiblot”. When I edit this I’m going to take that out so it’s not so awkward. Still, even with that, I’m especially proud of this story.]

All she left behind was a note and a half-finished mug of coffee. The note said nothing she hadn’t said before; he needed more motivation and personal hygiene, and she pleaded for him to seek professional help, this time ostensibly for his sake alone. And possibly the sake of one of her therapist friends. But he knew the coffee mug would speak volumes.

He lifted it up and placed it in the sink, then returned to examine the kitchen table where the coffee had been. He’d been an atheist when they’d met, and mostly still was, but she’d taught him enough perkiblot to make him at least acknowledge its therapeutic value. He peered intently at the ‘blot the mug had left behind, tracing the condensation’s silhouette in the air above it, careful not to disturb its fragile existence. He recalled the rules of deciphering a perkiblot, recalling also and inadvertently the first time she’d put her clammy, nervous hand on his and guided him through the process.

This one was happy news, as far as he was concerned: she would return. Not soon and not without reservation and not when he’d need her most. But she would return.

He took one of the thick paper towels she’d bought and wiped the kitchen table clean.

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