I hold my hands up and admit that I have not posted a lot of fiction up here recently. This is due to the official announcement earlier this week that my first debut novel, Zero, (a SciFi romp set in a gloriously dystopian future of oppressive social structures, rebellions and space-cannons), will be released this August 2014. I am more than a little pleased, not only because IT’S HAPPENING, IT’S REALLY HAPPENING! But also that it should be coming out in time for people to sling on their kindles for their summer holidays. It’s just the sort of story to sweep you far and away, just the kind I enjoy when lounging next to the pool.
So, I’m spending my evenings editing the 140,000 word draft at the moment: tightening, pruning and polishing. It’s such a different ballgame to writing, though a great amount of fun. There’s nothing like watching a project come together after so much hard work.
But to keep my mind fresh and to keep the blog engaged, both important for long-term productivity, I felt it was time for another piece of Flash Fiction.
I would like to thank the inimitable Helena Hann Basquait for providing me with the prompt for this story. In true Helena style, it’s suitably saucy and deliciously dark. (Incidentally, if you are a fan of witty creative non-fiction with an edge, check out Helena’s blog for details on the release of her Memoirs and other fiction. Well worth a read)
Without further ado, enjoy your Friday Fix of Flash Fiction and a new and wonderfully daft track form one of my favourite bands.
Gary stared, noodles dangling from his mouth. “You got a date with Veronica?”
Harry beamed. “Friday.”
Gary put down his lunch. “How?”
“I just asked her. She said yes.”
Gary narrowed his eyes. “You’ve not taken up black magic or anything? Sold your soul to some dodgy character with hooves?”
“I think I’m offended.”
Gary held up his hands. “No offence meant, mate. It’s just…Veronica Herald?”
Harry grinned again. “I know.”
His friend’s face shifted, like he was trying to hid a smile of his own. “You sure you’re man enough for her, Harry? Think hard now.”
“Look,” Harry said, puffing himself up. “She may be gorgeous, successful and intelligent – ”
“And the CEO.”
“…and the CEO,” Harry swallowed. “But she’s human, right? Maybe she just…liked the look of me.”
Gary raised his eyebrows. “You know what they say about her, right?”
“People say lots of things.”
“Yeah…but the thing?”
The older man leant forward over the canteen table. “She’s gets so…hungry…as it were – ” he said with a wiggle of his greying eyebrows, “that when she takes a guy home, if she doesn’t think he’s up for to it she…” he grinned, “‘feeds the beast’ first. So to speak.”
Harry frowned though didn’t like the feeling gathering in his belly. “She what?”
Gary shrugged. “Takes the edge off. You know. Gets the ball rolling. Alone. Not many men can meet her in the middle otherwise. Or so that say.”
“That’s gotta be crap,” Harry flustered. “She’s not an animal.”
“Maybe,” Gary said, going back to his noodles. “Maybe not. Good luck.”
Harry looked around the elegant hallway as Veronica locked the front door behind them.
“Your home is amazing,” he fumbled. The dinner had gone well. The wine had helped him not say anything too stupid. But the hallway dwarfed him and he suddenly felt sober and small.
“Thank you.” Veronica smiled, that smile that showed all her teeth. He tried to decide if her black eyes burned or if it was just in his head. “Go through to the living room, Harry. There’s more wine. I’ll join you shortly.”
Harry swallowed. “Oh, ok. Where are you going?”
Her smile widened. “Just freshening up. Go and make yourself comfortable. Then I’ll come and make you even more comfortable.”
Harry had never felt less comfortable in his life as he perched on the edge of the leather couch, telling his hands around the crystal glass to stop shaking. He listened to a door open and shut somewhere dep in the house and then the silence that followed, sipping wine to try and ease the tightness in his throat. As the silence stretched on he looked at the window wondering if it would be possible to climb out and run.
The click of Veronica’s stilettos on the stone stairs echoed her heartbeat. The torch beam lit her way, though she could do it blindfold now. The light fixture had been smashed months ago, but had never wanted to stay long enough to fix it. Her pulse thickened as she stepped off the bottom step into the silent basement. She cast her torch beam around the smashed furniture and scratches on the walls.
“Let’s get this over with,” Veronica said, rolling up her velvet sleeve and unwinding the bandage on her arm.
A mass detached itself from the shadows and shuffled forward. Dark hair hung in ropes over the death-pale face. The dark eyes burned between the strands. “You’re running out of time, you know.”
Veronica didn’t answer and thrust out her arm. The sound of horn scraping over concrete as the creature shuffled forward made her shiver. “Very well. It’s your soul.”
Veronica winced as teeth reopened the wound in her wrist and fought the familiar dizziness as the creature fed. She took three deep breaths and felt the shaking leave her. When she blinked her vision was clear, her hands steady. The creature shambled back off into its corner, sharp, yellow grin splitting its face. Veronica did a quick search of her mind but found no fear, no negativity, no doubt. She stood straighter, the familiar aches vanishing and watched the skin on her hands tighten and flush pink with renewed youth.
She smiled, re-bandaged her wrist and hurried back up to Harry.