Today, Bibliophilic Blather is proud to host not one, but two pieces of flash fiction; one from a veteran writer and artist, the other from a promising newcomer. I hope you enjoy these two different takes on what can be truly frightening.
A Sudden Rush
by LB Gschwandtner
Peggy had to go to the toilet so bad she almost peed her panties getting out of the car. In the bathroom, she pulled them down so fast her diamond ring caught in the elastic and ripped some stitches. But she made it just in time.
“Ahhhh,” she breathed.
Outside on a tree branch, a little wren with its tail stuck up in the air, looked perky and happy. Absently, Peggy reached out to the roll of toilet paper and spun it around with her fingertips, but she couldn’t find the break.
“Odd,” she thought. But maybe this was a new roll after all. Who paid attention to replacing toilet paper? She bent over to see where it began. Over the years, the bolts of the toilet seat had somehow loosened, and now the seat slid off center and hung to one side off the bowl. Peggy felt porcelain against her thigh.
“Crap,” she muttered as her right butt cheek tipped forward. Instinctively, to steady herself, her fingers closed around the soft toilet paper roll, and it spun around until it pinched her knuckles at her wedding band and diamond engagement ring. Her hand stuck, wedged between the fat roll and the wall fixture.
“Ow,” she winced and thought how ridiculous this was.
She tried to wriggle her hand free, but the toilet seat slid farther to the right, and her arm wrenched sideways. With her hand stuck in the paper roll, her naked butt, pants down around her ankles, was half in the air with her arm twisted around in a painful curve.
“Help,” she cried. But, of course, there was no one else in the house. To stabilize her body, she reached down to the floor with her left hand. That’s when it happened.
There was a noise as of rushing water coming from far away, like a dam had burst. A sound so subtle at first it could have been someone turning on a faucet in the kitchen or a bath downstairs. Just a gurgling rush. Until it hit her from behind, and the water was exploding out of the toilet, drenching her, cascading over her in great sheets as if she had entered a hurricane. On it came, wave after relentless wave. It lifted her up and up until her hand wrenched free from the now sodden toilet tissue roll and she was pushed to the ceiling as if she was trapped inside a sinking boat.
She gasped for air as the water rose faster than it could drain out from under the door. It enveloped her, filled the tub and cabinets, submerged the toilet and Peggy found herself staring out the window from under water, as if she were a fish in a bowl watching the little wren with its perky tail.
Then, with Peggy’s very last breath of air, the water receded in a huge eddy, twirling into the toilet like some reverse funnel cloud. Down and down and down, until the last bit of water was sucked back into the toilet with a sound like a dry cough.
A bewildered Peggy looked down at the puddle on the bathroom floor.
“This is what it means to be old,” she thought.
Laura B. Gschwandtner is married, the mother of three daughters, a writer, magazine editor, artist, and co-owner with her husband of an integrated media business. Her work has appeared in various journals, including Del Sol Review. One of her prose poems has been included in an anthology, Oil and Water and Other Things That Don’t Mix, which is a collection being published to support victims of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
She has received awards for three different stories from the Writer’s Digest Annual Competition in the mainstream literary category and the Lorian Hemingway short fiction competition, and was short listed for a Tom Howard Short Story Contest. She also founded TheNovelette.com, which offers free themed writing contests with prizes for emerging writers.
Her first novel, The Naked Gardener, is available at www.amazon.com in Kindle and print versions.
She lives in Virginia.
by Alexandra Horton
In an abandoned house in the urban city, a girl named Lauren stared at her reflection.
Her reflection stared back, mimicking her. Mocking her.
Lauren raised one hand. Her reflection did the same, at the same time. Just like a normal reflection you'd expect to see in a normal mirror. Except nothing was normal now.
Karen's blue eyes stared still, not daring to look away. The reflection's eyes stared back, unblinking, but the reflection's eyes were green.
Everything else was exactly alike. The same soft black hair, falling down to their shoulders. The same pale skin. Everything was the same. Except the eyes.
Lauren heard little children laugh outside, trick-or-treating. It was Halloween night. How clichéd, she thought. She didn't lose eye contact with herself.
Minutes passed. Lauren lost track of time. Her eyes watered, desperately wanting to blink. But she stared on nonetheless.
It was a month ago that she had learned her reflection was someone else. Lauren had caught it moving when she was not. Since then it had been moving without her doing the same.
Lauren watched her reflection finally move of its own accord. It lifted an arm, reaching out a hand. Lauren knew it was unwise, but she felt compelled to lift her own hand, and so she did.
Their fingers were close to touching. If I were to reach out any further, Lauren thought, I could touch. The reflection mouthed the word "touch" as Lauren thought it.
As their fingertips touched, and the light faded from the hazy house Lauren was standing in, the sound of breaking glass filled her ears, yet she could not let go. And when she finally opened her eyes, herself and the reflection had swapped. The reflection walked off to live Lauren's life, and Lauren became nothing more than the same misunderstood reflection.
Alexandra Horton is 12 years old. Her story, “Blinded by the Light,” was published in the Red House Young Writer's Yearbook 2010. Her poetry has appeared in Puffin Post magazine. She has two cats called Sootica and Wallis. She loves to write and read in her spare time and has a random obsession with Pokemon and Harry Potter. When she grows up, Alexandra wants to be an author or a flash mob organizer.
She lives in London.