Flashes of Sanity #87: Peppers and Incidents

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

This week’s entry: Peppers and Incidents

Enjoy!

Klaudio was his last name. Alred was his first name. Everyone knew that nowadays. It is apparently hard to miss the guy standing in his stained underwear in front of the rooftop luxury suit every day.

Alred never really understood what the fuss was about, he was just doing his morning stumble. It was the perfect start before a perfect overnight matured burrito breakfast.

It was a lot of things Alred never really understood about living on a rooftop. Like the constant visitors. All the girls offering nighttime snacks and the suits coming with opportunities too good to be true. Alred already had a nighttime snack, it was a burrito, and he considered anyone wearing a suit not trustworthy. They had a noose around their neck, who could trust anyone with that level of stupidity?

The guy visiting Alred today on the other hand, him Alred could put his whole life in the hands of. Those ripped jeans. That messy hair.  Those gloomy eyes. That posture. He glowed with trust.

“This pot will show you the world,” the man said and handed Alred a dragon shaped pot.

Sadly, Alred dropped it, immediately. Pots are somehow always slippery.

To Alred’s surprise, peppers began to grow. Pink ones. How weird.

The man giggled. Alred did not really care. A pepper was exactly what, he needed to finish of his burrito. So, he ate one, it became two. Well… Why not eat a whole bunch now when they grow on the floor.

The man’s giggle turned into a growling laugh. Alred could not resist to join in. Then he spat fire on the man’s jeans and man’s laugh turned to screaming.

“I am so sorry,” Alred said. “I will try to take it out.”

He reached for the fire, but accidently stumbled. He hit the man face first, which apparently breeds more fire. The man fell, like all the way down to the street.

“Oh,” Alred sighed. “I better call the police.”

He ate another pink pepper.

“Tomorrow.”

Apparently Alred had wings too. Why had he never noticed them before? Life is mysterious sometimes.

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Copyright © David B. Johansson 2021

Flashes of Sanity #86: Birthday party

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less. The last entry for this celebratory month. What better way to end this than a story about a birthday party!

Today’s entry: Birthday party

Enjoy!

Everyone was there. Her mother, her father, her brothers, her friends, friends’ parents. Exactly everybody.

It was the perfect birthday party.

Yet no one played. No one smiled. No one talked.

Everyone stared.

”Mom, what is happening?”

”I don’t know hon’, go ask your dad.”

The girl walked over to all those who stared, past the children freezing between the crowd and her mother.

”Dad, what is happening?”

”I am sorry little one, but we can’t celebrate on days like this.” Her father glared at her mother. ”Not when snakes have been ruining lives.”

”Ruining lives?” The mother screamed. ”Your riot killed someone!”

”And how many won’t your machines have killed when this all is over?” The father snapped back. ”How many will have to starve before you realize the wrong in all this.”

”You are impossible,” the mother mumbled.

The father went down on his knees beside the little girl. His charring eyes met hers.

”Once they knock on your door,” he whispered, ”I want you to know that you are safe. You and your brother will always be safe.”

He then turned to all those who stared. He nodded and the house became empty in a matter of seconds.”

”Mom,” the girl’s voice trembled. ”I am scared.”

The mother hugged her daughter. Hard.

”Why do they hate us?” The birthday girl cried.

”Because,” her mother’s voice trembled too. ”Change is hard on people.”

Later that night, when they came knocking she didn’t feel safe either. Not when they shot the guards. Not when they punched her mother. Not when they opened her bedroom door.

“Don’t you worry,” she told her brothers. “Dad told me we would be safe.”

”Dad,” she whispered as the men walked closer. “Are you there?”

But her dad was not among the knockers.

They were only starers.

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Flashes of Sanity #85: A cruel interview

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

Today’s entry: A cruel interview

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The school clock said time for recess. For the two standing by the van, it was time to leave. Their boss had different plans though.

”Just this interview,” he had said. ”It will be the interview of a lifetime.”

Bjoern thought no interview with a child could become the interview of a lifetime, no matter the circumstances.

”There they are!” The cameraman pointed towards the front door that was thrown open from the flood of children storming through it.

”Okay,” Bjoern picked up his microphone and prepared. ”Do you have the camera ready to roll.”

”Since we got here,” the cameraman slapped his big yet portable machine.

Bjoern began walking towards the horde. No one seemed to notice him.

I am so lucky I don’t have kids, he thought as he saw the running noses.

”There he is,” Bjoern redirected his steps towards the little boy who played with his friend.

”Hi, are you Leo?”

The child looked up at him. ”Is that a camera?”

”Yes,” Bjoern said as the cameraman sat himself in position. ”Do you want to know how it works?”

”If I do?!” The child went from suspicious to exalted in a heartbeat.

Sweet innocent child, Bjoern thought.

”You see the button here?” The boy nodded eagerly. ”If you press it, the camera will start recording.”

The boys friend suddenly jumped the boy. ”Can I see too?”

”Off course you can.” Bjoern put a shoulder in the cameraman’s side. ”Flip the screen so they can ser themselves.”

”Can I press the button now?”

”Be my guest.” In his periphery Bjoern saw a teacher walk towards them. ”As long as you don’t mind me interviewing you.

”Hey, what are you doing here?”

The boy pressed the button.

”This is Bjoern Huffleson and today I am interviewing little Leo, Arthur Sooley’s son.” Bjoern looked at the boy. ”How does it feel to know that you are safe from your father now that he is dead?”

The child looked confused at Bjoern. ”Dead? No he is in prison.”

”I am sorry to be the one telling you this,” Bjoern hurried the words as the teacher got closer.

”Hey!”

”But your father was found dead this morning.”

The child’s eyes went blank. ”Dead?”

”HEY!”

Two hands grabbed Bjoern’s shoulders.

”You are not supposed to be here.”

”Dead?” The little boy said again his eyes watered. The camera caught it all.

Maybe I was wrong, Bjoern thought as the teacher threw him out. This might be the interview of a lifetime after all.

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Flashes of Sanity #84: A tough dilemma

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

Today’s entry: A tough dilemma

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There had been a lot of random variables involved but somehow Marge had survived the end of the earth.

Somehow they all had survived it.

The problem was that now she had to clean up the mess. The president had done his job. He had done it well. But in the state the world was now, it was crucial he never got reelected. The nation’s security relied on it.

So, Marge had done what was necessary. She removed the editorial from the president’s speeches and the whole world had heard the rudeness coming out of his mouth.

Apparently half the population liked that. Actually, more than half.

Stupid people, she thought. They should not be allowed to vote.

Plan B would be much less convenient. But with the country on the line what choice does she have?

”How may I help you?” The man she called said.

”I would need a scandal.” Marge said. ”It should be a heavy hitter but I want it cleanly done.”

”I think I know what you are after,” the man said. ”We will make sure your business partner meets the right people and the right people get to know about it.”

”Great, no loose ends.”

”No loose ends,” the man confirmed. ”As we always do things. How did you like our last delivery?”

”It met our expectations,” Marge said. ”Sadly most of them died at encounter one.”

”I heard that those were pretty… uncommon circumstances.”

”Very uncommon. Expect more orders like those in the coming weeks.”

”We have Hunters and Witches ready just for you,” the man hung up.

Marge looked at the cellphone still feeling dirty from the discussion. She threw it away.

Now to the next dilemma, Marge sat down on a bench. Who to run this country next.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. That was all she did nowadays.

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Flashes of Sanity #83: Death’s teacher

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

Today’s entry: Death’s teacher

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”It’s called an automatic system,” Mort sighed. ”That means it is automatic…”

”Yes,” the manager scratched her head. ”But what button do I push to start extraction?”

”Okay,” Mort rubbed his temples. God, I need a drink right now, he thought.

”Let’s take this from the start…” Mort dragged the unwilling redhead to the bay. ”The cargo ship docks above these sensors which activates the extraction process. The extraction inlet is primed to recognize the infra-red light that has been part of all ships since the sinless year.”

”Yes,” the manager looked at the big metallic rods way down in the fiery water. ”The only year we ever had that problem. Rather the opposite in recent years.”

”Exactly,” Mort continued to the tank. ”The soul extraction starts immediately, and once the cargo ship is empty the inlet let’s go. Automatically.”

”Just like that?”

”Just like that.”

”What was wrong with the old way?”

”You needed thousands of employees just to run the machinery. Now we have pushed it down to two. That is very beneficial. You know what they say, in today’s economy employees are the highest expense.”

”But it can’t be more expensive than all this?” The manager pointed downwards to all the machinery now building what was hell.

”It is much cheaper, even if the whole machinery broke down and you had to replace it all, you would still have money to spare in comparison to running it on manpower.”

”I have it very difficult to believe that.”

”Please,” Mort wanted to pull his wings off. Even Bilk would have understood the gist of it by now, Bilk was smart though. Constantly drunk or high, but smart none the less.

”Just try to understand. You don’t want to end up like the grogoran hell, don’t you?”

The manager flinched and her mouth turned into thin line. No one wanted to be replaced with boars. That was the rule among devils.

”Do you want me to explain again?”

The manager shook her head.

”Great,” Mort said. ”We are working on effectivizing the cargo ships but as of now we have some years left. How about some lunch?”

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Flashes of Sanity #82: Analysis in Multiple Variables

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

Today’s entry: Analysis in Multiple Variables

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Okay, her father had taught her one thing; when in a though spot, analyze.

The process was simple. Go through every scenario. Find the best option. Then run as hell.

She put her pen to the paper. She drew a square.

I could just run, she thought. Take the run as hell part literary. She looked over her shoulder and caught a glimpse of the pack hovering over the dustbin fire.

Yeah, she thought, not an option. She made the square into a house.

How about option number dos? Turning herself in and ending this macabre journey into mystery. One Google search on the man she killed made her sure that was no option either. The people wanted blood for the one who killed their favorite hero.

The house needed a family of stick figures. It got a dog too.

That leaved one option.

The obvious road is often the correct one, her father used to say. Often when deciding on where to eat. Always Italian. Always Giorgino’s. Always pasta scallops.

She did not think he thought of these kinds of decisions when saying it.

But still it was her only road ahead with her life still intact. She glanced at the group again.

Well at least they have a dog. A tailless drooling dog who ate children for breakfast. But a dog none the less.

It was actually kind of cute.

”Hey!” One of the grunts shouted as he noticed her looking at them. ”Have you decided yet?”

Shit, she thought. Shit. Shit.

The house with a stick figure family went up in flames.

”Yeah,” one of the others said. ”We have been waiting for hours.”

”I hope you are not trying to run away.” She could hear the sharpness in the words, the eagerness to kill. ”I don’t like runners.”

She got up on her shaky feet.

Be stunning, she told herself. She touched the tazers in her hands. She knew they were useless against these crooks but still it gave her comfort.

”I have thought about your proposal,” she said. ”I think we need a good name for our gang.”

The gangsters cheered at her decision. The cop killer, who else could be best suited to lead them?

No one was their answer.

Everyone was at her disposal.

The dog got up on his back legs and drowned her face and body in saliva.

What the hell, she thought. I am the best there is.

”Stunning Blonde!” Echoed through the allies.

Faces appaered from the darkness. They joined in.

”Stunning Blonde and the Thunders!”

A new leader had joined their ranks.

A cop killer.

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Flashes of Sanity #81: Boardroom Quarrel

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

Today’s entry: Boardroom Quarrel

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”What are you saying?” The papers flew around the room as Sam suddenly threw himself up on the table.

”You know what I said,” his friend and business partner said. Sam wasn’t really that sure of the friend part anymore. Actually, the business partner part seemed to be gone now too.

”But you can’t just remove me from the SurgeRay,” Sam slammed his fists against the table. ”I built this company with you and Mia, you just can’t remove me.”

”Actually I can,” Douglas leaned back in his chair. ”I proposed it to the board yesterday and the decision was unanimous.”

Douglas locked his eyes on Sam’s.

”Sam you don’t belong here anymore. We don’t want anything to do with you.”

Sam suddenly threw the table across the room. Douglas not even flinched.

”This is so unfair!”

”No it is not. It is business.”

”I was the one who expanded SurgeRay’s portfolio into all it is today. If it wasn’t for me, you would still try to make the delivery machine perfect. My products made SurgeRay to what it is today!”

”And the board will be forever grateful for that. SurgeRay’s ever evolving status will be printed into our DNA thanks to you.”

Sam looked at his once best friend. The stone face was far from the smiles he was used to. He fell to the ground with his hands to his face.

”What happened to you?”

”You know what happened Sam, do not pretend the opposite.”

Sam looked up at Douglas. ”Yes, I understand,” he sighed. ”Sara.”

”Yes, Sara.”

The two men stared at eachother for minutes before Sam found the energy to get up on his feet.

”What are you gonna do now?” Douglas Diamond asked.

”I am going home.”

”I thought home was gone.”

”It is and it isn’t.” Sam opened the door. That’s the beauty of home. Somehow It’s always there.”

He hesitated before stepping outside.

”Douglas,” he said. ”I will never forget this.”

”I don’t expect you to,” Douglas said. ”And you should also know that I will never stop watching you.”

”I don’t expect you to.” Sam slammed the door behind him.

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Flashes of Sanity #80: Estimated Delivery

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

Today’s entry: Estimated Delivery

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The devil sighed. Loudly. Then he groaned.

He was missing dinner. Roasted piglets. Why of all days was today the day the delivery was delayed?

The flaming water changed from orange to blue to white and then back again. 20, 40 and 60 minutes, and then 60 more. Even the tortured souls screaming at the bottom of the flames pitied him.

When the ship finally showed itself in the horizon, the flames had turned back to blue once again. And the devil had walked circles in the stones under his feet.

The ship docked and the devil could finally lower the bridge to welcome its passengers.

“What took you so long?” the devil asked as he saw the captain show him aboard.

“Haven’t you heard?” The captain asked. “The whole world has turned to flames.”

“I don’t find flames as intriguing as the beyonders do,” the devil said. ”And I didn’t think the ferryman feared it either.”

The captain frowned. ”The ferryman was my father. I am the Captain. My name is Valdok.”

The devil smiled. ”Ah yes, the traitor and his unwilling son.”

The sour look on Captain Valdok’s face was almost enough to make up for the missed dinner. ”Do you want the delivery or not?”

”It is my job,” the devil shrugged. ”What I want is not of importance as long as I got a job.”

”You are probably right about that,” Captain Valdok said as they mounted a tube to the extraction vent. ”I heard about the stabbers going away.”

”Not just the stabbers. The scorcher and the twisters too. The moment these sad bastards go through the tube, a whole machinery begins down there.” The devil frowned. ”It’s disgusting, I’ll tell you that much.”

Captain Valdok nodded. He pushed a button and the souls flowed through the pipe down to the eternal torment. Every single soul screeched.

”I think you’ll need to use the extra cells this time, and in the coming deliveries.”

”I will prepare tank 3 and 4.” With the press of a button two large cylinders became active.

”Tanks?” Valdok flinched at the thought. ”Poor bastards.”

”It is all pressure and steel now,” the devil sighed.

The two observed the steady flow of screaming souls flowing past them in silence.

”I will be back tomorrow,” Valdok said as they removed the tube. ”Don’t expect me to be any earlier.”

”Then I will make sure to eat dinner before I go on.”

”Yes and prepare tank 5 and 6 if you have so many,” Valdok faked a smile.

”We have eight,” The devil said. ”Bring so many souls that the tanks explode tomorrow. That would maybe put an end to this craziness.”

”With how the world looks right now? No problem.”

The Captain took the devil’s hand, and as they parted ways both new this could be the last time. Both had ignored the label on the tank.

’Automatic Extraction’

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Flashes of Sanity #79: Install.exe

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

Today’s entry: Install.exe

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Black. Everything is pitch-black.

Then, from nothing, fragments of light builds. The tiny fragments cluster into a shine. The shine grows into an endless miracle of connections. Every connection recalls a different aspect of reality. Every reality rebuilds world.

The worlds explode into possibilities. And from possibilities moments are created.

The moments flash in memories of what once was and what could have been.

”Oxygen levels steady.”

A life is birthed out of the moments. Two hands holding with nothing but the moon watching.

”Mother.”

Streets of a past once lived.

”We are removing life support.”

A light as strong as the sun. Then only memories.

”Father.”

A face on the sidewalk. A cold from a hand once warm. Pain from the kicks once dealt.

Chills from the asphalt turning cruel in the winter night.

”She is steady. Start her up with a shot of adrenaline.”

Hurt. Then burn.

Scream. Then cry.

”Welcome back Dina.”

Shivers. Then soft.

”You will get to meet you mother soon.”

Hope.

”Mother.”

”Father.”

”Sorry, no father is in this picture.”

Cold hands holding fades. Dead faces hides.

”Mother.”

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Flashes of Sanity #78: School Zone

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly (during July it is daily!) dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less.

Today’s entry: School Zone

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”We are closing in?” Their father glanced back at them in the rear-view mirror. ”Haven’t you missed school?”

Only one of the children cheered. The other ones stared blankly at their screens or out the window.

”I want to meet my friends!” The youngest said.

”Alright then, out with you before I change my mind and take you home again.”

The youngest child rushed out under loud cheers. ”Adaaaaaaaaam!”

The others zombie-crawled their way out of the minibus.

”Bye my little rascals!” The minibus disappeared.

The small group walked into the schoolyard. As they closed in on their classmates, they walked closer to each other.

”Remember,” the oldest said.

”Look at the ground and no one will notice you,” one of his brothers filled in.

”That’s right, I will see you right here after class, okay?”

”Here comes the smellfest.” a boy shouted from afar. ”Watch out, they scatter!”

One of the mothers scanned the group from the driveway. She had a phone to her ear.

”HI,” she said. ”Arthur Sooli drove here drunk again. Yes, he is still driving.”

She stood silent for a moment and observed as her son played with the youngest Sooli son. She wrinkled her nose.

”Yes,” she said. ”He has been giving them too.”

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