John Clark sharing his entry in the MWPS’s Virtual Crime Wave flash fiction contest. Entrants were given the following prompt and had a limit of 500 words.
Despite the hints and then the conversation and then the planning, Kaitlyn didn’t think the group was really going to kill anyone until Alex closed their laptop, rubbed their face and said, “We’re in.” Read On.
Despite the hints and then the conversation and then the planning, Kaitlyn didn’t think the group was really going to kill anyone until Alex closed their laptop, rubbed their face and said, “We’re in.”
They’d meet in the Grammercy School parking lot after dusk. Proximity to the victims had to be balanced with the threat of alerting them before the kill.
Victims! Thought Kaitlyn What an overused word in a world turned upside down. It seemed as though the new reality divided survivors into victims and everyone else, no gray areas now.
She and Alex were just trying to survive. Survive in a tent on state forest land, hoping the food pantry and the garden they planted would get them through to whatever cold weather might bring. Thank God they hadn’t pawned the laptop and were within walking distance of several free Wi-Fi hotspots. Going south was tempting until she thought about the stories they’d heard from some who had tried it. No one in the loosely knit group who called themselves the Waterville Desperadoes, could have envisioned being killers in their former lives just a short time ago.
It might have been different if none of the group had been attacked by the ‘victims,’ but after it happened for the third time, landing Alex and Leo at the already overburdened emergency room where they waited overnight without being treated, the grumbling morphed into the beginnings of a plan to retaliate. The cops sure as hell weren’t stepping in. They had their hands full with armed protesters, overdoses and sometimes lethal confrontations when folks disagreed on wearing masks or getting too close at the big box stores.
Alex double checked their backpack. “I’m good to go,” they said. They looked at Kaitlyn. “You nervous?”
“Scared to death is more like it. What if we screw this up?”
Alex shrugged, “Guess we’ll find out.” They shouldered their pack and exited the shabby tent the two of them called home, Kaitlyn following reluctantly.
The tension was palpable when they reached the parking lot. Leo, Grimy Jean and Oddlot were waiting. “Where’s Dilly?” Alex asked.
“Lying on the floor at the ER, looking like she’s three blinks from dead,” Leo muttered. “I doubt she’ll have any better luck than we did. Those monsters blindsided her when she was watering the beans. We gonna do this or not?”
None of them knew what kind of warning system the monsters had, so it was creep, pray, creep, pray for almost an hour as they moved deeper into the forest.
“That’s it,” Leo pointed to an opening in a huge tree. He grabbed the can from Alex’s pack, edged to the opening and let gas flow into it before backing away, trickling more on the forest floor.
The whoomp as the gas caught was overshadowed by the vicious whine as the giant insects died.
At dawn, Leo pulled one from the tree, biting before chewing thoughtfully. “Not bad, if you don’t mind the gassy flavor.