Judas

(c) Ted Strutz
(c) Ted Strutz

He picks up the electric guitar. The change of the sound hits me in the gut. Even my goosebumps are amplified. It feels like audio sparks going off. The power is spreading out from his guitar, down the stage, over the crowd. But not all of the crowd. A group of traditionalists are trying to drown out the music with their boos.

The guy next to me shouts traitor. A surge of powerful anger runs through me, jolts me into action.

‘Shut up or leave.’

Because I like it. I love it. I know I’ve seen the future. I’m electrified.

*****

I wrote Judas for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly flash fiction challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to read more stories inspired by the photo prompt.

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Elsie’s Orders

I’ve gone down to the newsagent’s for the Mail on Sunday. Elsie’s orders.

Same face on every front page. I recognise the boy. Knocked on the door the other night, soaked through. Shivering. Begging to be let in. I shut the door in his face. Elsie’s orders.

‘You’ll find yourself with a knife to your throat if you open the door to the likes of him,’ Elsie said.

I fling the paper at her.

‘We should have given the lad shelter. He’d be alive. I’m calling the coppers.’

‘Don’t,’ Elsie says. ‘We know nothing.’

But I won’t obey another order.

Weight Loss

‘Weight?’

Dr. Kay talks over her like she’s not there. The intern leans over to check the scales, careful not to look at her naked body. He does not want to be here, thinks what they’re doing is wrong. But he needs the internship to get a pass.

‘Weight?’

Dr. Kay’s getting impatient.

’47 kilograms.’

‘Too low. Got to keep an eye on it.’

Dr. Kay shoos her away.

‘Is she allowed to get dressed?’

‘No, we’re not done.’

‘It’s cold.’

Dr. Kay chuckles.

‘She’s used to it.’

The intern bids goodbye to his morals and silently mourns the loss.

(Inspired by this week’s Micro Bookends. I ignored the picture prompt so I cannot enter the competition. I got a story out of it, though, so I’m happy.)

Welcome to the Ball

His flat seems quite large, lots of doors going off the corridor. It smells brand-new, clinical. He leads me into the lounge.

‘Drink?’

‘I need the loo, actually.’

‘Third door to your right.’

I pass the kitchenette. It’s full of stuff you’d expect to find in a lab. Bizarre.

I open a door. I must have counted wrong. I find myself in a ballroom full of life-sized mannequins, all with their arms open in welcome. Only they’re not mannequins. I stifle a scream. He mustn’t know I found his sick taxidermy project.

‘Aren’t they beautiful? You’ll fit right in.’

Mother-Daughter Relationship

The open suitcase lies on the floor. Her head’s stuck in the wardrobe, she’s throwing items of clothing in the general direction of the carry-on. Shorts, bikini tops and sundresses litter her bed.

‘You can’t leave.’

‘I’ve booked my flight. Jilly’s expecting me.’

She darts out, almost slips on a flip-flop and collects a print-out from the desk. Her plane ticket.

‘Please,’ I plead. ‘I’ll stop treating you like a child.’

She scoops up the mess and dumps it into the suitcase.

‘Remember what you said when you moved out? We’ll finally get on. I’m only returning the favour, love.’

*****

(loosely based on the prompt of this week’s 100 word challenge for grown-ups)

BFnotF

Sybil’s home for the summer. She finds her hometown provincial, close-minded. She’s learnt so much – most of it outside of the lecture halls. She cannot wait to exchange experiences with Rebecca. They’ve been in touch via text, but it’s not the same. Like, how can you share how much better fresh mint tea is in a few words? She got up early to buy mint at the market.

‘Hi Billie. What’s that smell?’

‘I prefer Sybil now.’

‘Right. Aren’t you glad to be home? People at uni are so intense.’

Sybil suspects it’s going to be a long summer.

Not My Cup of Tea

‘Tea?’

‘Please.’

Billie takes fresh mint, chops it up and sweeps it into the tea pot. To be honest, I thought she meant PG Tips. Do I complain? The atmosphere is strained already – I’ve failed to call her Sybil twice. I can’t wrap my head around it. She used to hate her name. But she’s an adult now, adults don’t have names like Billie. Apparently.

She hands me a mug. Unsweetened peppermint tea. I want my friend back. Billie liked sugar. Sybil drives me up the wall.

Uni hasn’t changed you at all.’

She makes it sound like an accusation.

Review a Book You Loved

I loved this book. Isn’t that enough?

Teachers always say I don’t read enough. But when I do, they punished me. I don’t want to explain, in writing, why I loved this book. How it made me understand something about myself, about other people. What’s the word I want? When you get people have reasons for behaving the way they do? I may not like it, but I can see where they’re coming from. Life isn’t fair, some people don’t deal with it well. I understand that now.

Empathy, that’s the one.

Why don’t you show a little empathy, too?

Beware of the Dog

‘Tada,’ she says. ‘Let’s go for a dip.’

‘Break into the lido? What if someone calls the police?’

‘Don’t be such a baby,’ she says with a grin. But she means it. Don’t call me a baby, I want to reply. I swallow hard. She’s looking at me, the challenge clear as daylight despite the dark.

‘Will we have to get naked?’

‘It’s called skinny-dipping for a reason.’

No name-calling this time. I fear it’s not an improvement. I don’t have a choice.

‘Okay.’

‘You go first.’

I climb over the fence. Then I notice the guard dog.