Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Yeah Write #28: Marked (#flashfiction)

door-barricade

There was no place left to run and the hiding place in the basement had no room for one more body. At least, that is what the woman in the blue t-shirt — the Star Wars logo still new — told them.   She shut the door against the protests.  The shrieking from outside grew ever closer.  The front door banged and splintered; a heavy thump shook the debris from the floor boards above.

A face appeared in the small glass window centered on the door. The mouth moved, but she couldn’t hear. She smiled and shook her head to reassure the wild eyes. The previous owner had built a mini soundproof room in the cellar for recording music. The ripped out equipment she packed in front of the door to hide it. He was dead upstairs. Lesley. Death by meat cleaver. It had been more difficult to dispatch someone that way than expected.

Crashing. Thumping. Breaking dishes.

Her heart raced.

Lesley with an “ey” — neighbor and casual friend. How often had they joked about never dating because she was Leslie with an “ie” and that would be too ridiculous?  Middle names were out since that coincidence defied all laws of probability. It didn’t matter now. Her favorite jacket lay next to him soaked in blood and she could still feel the dried bits of him flecked on her face. It wasn’t murder when a crazed man tried to rip you apart, she reminded herself. A lanky, sedentary dude with asthma should have been the least of her worries.

And it had been three days since the cleaver.

Three days since she’d had a shower or decent meal not scavenged cold from a can. Three days since the meteor shower and the red dust that turned the air crimson. Dust still hung thick — suspended like brick powder— but had begun to settle out and coat everything in a rusty hue. Three days since the angry, raised rash around her wrist, neck, and temples appeared and spread along her spine.

The shouts and growls from upstairs grew more frenetic. Two voices.

The reinforced cellar door bulged under the weight of repeated blows with a shoulder or makeshift battering ram. She finished piling up old office chairs to bar the little room. Not so much that those inside — aging women and children — couldn’t get out. Not that she was a spring chicken. Forty wasn’t old, but younger than sixty.

The nails began to give way from the hastily attached planks. The two-by-four kick guard helped, but the rickety stairs wouldn’t hold the pressure for long.

Crack.

Leslie held an empty shot gun barrel to use as a club, but switched to a small crowbar. She looped a cord through the hanging hole and tied it over the rags around her wrist. She’d lost a weapon to a weak grip more than once.

They’d all gone mad. The men. They attacked young women first — out of the blue and en masse. Not all, exactly. Boys under twelve and a few immune men here and there — one was in the little room. He had a rash too.   Everyone in the room had one.  Not as extensive as hers, though. That can’t be a coincidence; we’re marked.

She had been watching the news reports on the red cloud.  The silver-haired anchor had leaped from his seat and struck his female co-anchor. Screams had erupted outside. Uncountable deaths; so fast.

A man’s body broke through the door and the force tumbled him down the stairs end over end. He fell on the concrete floor head first and Leslie heard the muffled snap of bone. One less.

She stopped wondering who the dead might have been.

His roving buddy frothed at the mouth upstairs. Though he came down three and four stairs at a time, he made it and stepped on his companion. He barreled towards her — sunken eyes bloodshot and shriveled skin hanging from dehydration.

Leslie’s rash tingled and grew hot; the man was unmarked.

In the last moment, he twisted short. The crowbar missed and struck the wall. He threw himself against a beam, stared dazed — drool dripping down his chin — and blinked. Leslie prepared to bludgeon. He stopped growling, sniffed the air, dropped his shoulders, and clambered up the stairs. His footsteps pounded above; his screams were swallowed by the brawl outside.

Leslie collapsed on a vintage curvy couch because there were no chairs left.

Three days; still alive.

She itched.

 

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14 comments on “Yeah Write #28: Marked (#flashfiction)

  1. d3athlily
    February 23, 2016

    Woah! That was intense! You definitely have a knack for suspense. And scifi. I’m super curious now. Hope you write something bigger on this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      February 23, 2016

      Thanks! I tried to open up with action since I don’t normally do so. I don’t think I quite manage action, but suspense is pretty close? 🙂 I’ve got lots of ideas for this story. I think you’d get lost in my head if you were able to see in there. LOL Unfortunately, I’m not so great at finishing the long haul :/ I think plot is the bane of my writing existence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • c2avilez
        February 25, 2016

        I know now I can count on you to suck me into a gripping story. (Although I think I’ll have nightmares from the description of the cleaver and flecks of Lesley.) I love how you kept bringing us back to the itchy rash. You’ve got me wondering what’s going on. What was in that meteor?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Laissez Faire
        February 25, 2016

        Oh, I’ve got lots of questions. If I had more words the characters were going to discuss such. Was it the meteor or was that coincidence? Was the meteor a catalyst for what was already present? Or did it bring it? Dun dun duuuuuun! Not sure I could cover it all in 3000 words 😉

        I’m happy though that you got sucked in. I was feeling pretty low and it perked me up when I read your comment.

        Like

      • c2avilez
        February 25, 2016

        You really need to put out a collection of short stories, at the very least.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Laissez Faire
        February 25, 2016

        I just did a google. About 20 stories for a collection (40,000 words). Yikes. Not sure I’ve got a strong 10, but it is a bug you put in my ear. I am better at short than long pieces. Harder for me to trip over plot 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. innatejames
    February 25, 2016

    The tension ramps up so well in this, Tara. I liked how you doled out the information- the murder, the epidemic infecting men (yes?), the other people locked in the room with Leslie. I lost a sense of where Julie is a few times. I think a few sentences establishing setting would help. For instance, do the stairs descend straight down into the soundproof room? Does the soundproof room take up the entire basement? If the stairs are further away from the sound proof room, how is she seeing what the men are doing to the door at the top of the stairs?

    Like

    • Laissez Faire
      February 25, 2016

      I should have specified that the soundproof room was built off in a corner. The cellar is small.

      Like

    • Laissez Faire
      February 25, 2016

      Oh, and yes, there is an epidemic infecting the men. It’s just one layer, the rash is the other — but its all connected.

      Like

  3. Mixed Bag (@m_ixedbag)
    February 25, 2016

    Oh wow! This was really intense! I’d love to read more:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      February 25, 2016

      There’s more in my head swirling around. I’ve been thinking of setting my novella aside and finishing/expanding some of the recent shorts instead, so you might get your wish on this one.

      Like

  4. rubybastille
    February 25, 2016

    Like Innate, I was confused a couple times by the physical layout of the house where she’s hiding, but I liked the tension created by both the attacking men and the itchiness of the rash. It helped drive home that there’s really no safe place left.

    Also, this line: “She smiled and shook her head to reassure the wild eyes.” I don’t know if you intended it this way, but I took it as commentary on how women default to “nice” as a self-preservation technique, and it fit in eerily well with the rest of the piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      February 25, 2016

      I left out a lot of my usual description this time. I didn’t set the layout. Small cellar, DIY soundproof room in a corner. She can see the stairs.

      Yes, I did use that line deliberately. A contrast between the “motherly nice” and the “I’m going to kick some ass now” switch.

      Like

  5. Cyn K
    February 25, 2016

    Dammit! Now I am itchy and creeped out.

    Like

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This entry was posted on February 23, 2016 by in fiction, writing, Yeah Write and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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