Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flash Fiction Friday (driving test/apples/tasty/quiet ones

Once again, these posts are based on prompts from Flashy Fiction and I've dragged them all over here, but you should go check out some of the other posts. They were on fire this week. I wanted to do more of the prompts this week, but I've been busy, so I might go back and do Wednesday's next week. In fact, I've got to get busy, so I'll have to post more tomorrow.

I went back and posted for an older prompt because I felt inspired when I read it:

Sept 26th

Prompt was:

"Ms. Webster. I see you're back for a third attempt at the driving portion of the exam."

"Ms. Webster. I see you're back for a third attempt at the driving portion of the exam."

"I can do this," she said. "It's the only section I haven't aced."

"I'll need your sidearm during the exam," he said.

She glared at him. This was just a way to make her feel impotent. She was almost certain THAT was what was tripping her up. His attitude. Nonetheless, it would make her less tempted to shoot him... probably.

Weaving around cones, she picked up speed in the tricked-out black car. She rammed the mannequin down and swung the corner, screeching.

"Excellant speed this time," the prick next to her approved.

The car slammed the ramp at sixty, and just as they breached the edge, she punched the button for the missles to hit the hidden target. Perfect. The bullseyes exploded.

"Of course... you knew about it this time," he said dryly.

The shocks absorbed some of the impact, but she was gratified to see him rubbing the back of his head where it hit the seat rest. Jerk. In her mind, she echoed his words in a high-pitched, whiney mimickry.

Her trigger finger staccatoed and decimated four more targets with the machine gun.

"Oil slick," the tester said, nodding at a sign saying, "Oil Slick Next Fifty Feet."

She rolled her eyes. She'd seen that, but now he'd managed to steal her thunder for it. She laid out an oil slick trail behind the car... for exactly fifty feet... thank you very much. Idiot.

Swerving between two spike strips she only had the final shot left to take... while parallel parking. The corner came faster than she'd expected, but she swung hard, and the car slid sideways into the spot between the two cones. Her momentum carried her into the curb, but that couldn't be helped, and she'd only tapped it.

"You missed...," he started to say, but she grabbed his glock and shot the target through his open window.

That was the secret... she could tell from his smile. There was no way to aim while parallel parking.

"Congratulations, Agent Webster, you're now licensed to kill while driving," he said, shaking her hand.

October 10th's prompt was a picture:

The banner outside the building said "Welcome to the Annual Gene Anew Company Halloween Party!"

She was looking over the final checklist when Max walked in.

"Are we ready, Tess, for a quick run through of the departments before the big man gets here?" he asked.

"I've checked on all the floors... aside from the dungeon," she said, getting up with the list.

"Research and development?" he said warily. "Please tell me they don't have the haunted house again."

"Yeah... no. I gave that to Sales. Clearly, they aren't scared by the same things as normal people," she said as they got into the elevator.

"Down we go...," he said, while pressing the button for the basement. "You didn't put them over the food, though, right?"

"Hell no," she said, horrified. "I still don't know what it was Trish drank three years ago down there, but she swears her pee glowed for a month."

Max fought a smile.

"I gave that to HR."

"Trick or treating door-to-door?" Max guessed.

"No, they don't have enough doors. It's mostly just those few large labs. The Geeks in IT have all those cubes, so they'll be doing that," Tess said. "Any last guesses? We're almost there."

"Hopefully, it's something not even the dungeon can screw up," Max stated.

"Carter is handling it. He seems to be the only one that speaks 'human' every day. I put them over bobbing for apples. I told him to get some apples and stick them in water," Tess said, tapping the spot on the list.

"Yeah... well... we'll see in a moment how they got that wrong," Max said as the elevator slid to a stop.

Tess wrinkled up her nose. "He did ask me if they actually had to bob...the apples I mean, and I explained that it wasn't a big deal, because it was more about the biting than bobbing. He got really excited at that."

"He got excited? That can't be good. He's probably genetically engineered giant mutant apples."

"Really?" Tess asked, horrified.

The door slid open, and Carter was waiting for them, beaming. "I think you'll love what we've done," he said to Tess. "They're not quite as vicious as our first set, but we couldn't keep them from devouring each other. By the end of the day, we only had one giant apple. Can you imagine that?"

Max and Tess exchanged glances as they followed the scientist back to the lab. There was a large tank with apples bobbing up and down.

"This is the second batch, and they only eat fish." Carter nodded and another man in a lab coat dumped a bucket of chum into the water. The apples went into a frenzy. "You said the biting was more important than the bobbing, but we've managed to accomplish both." He gestured at the churning water proudly. "It had to do with the piranha DNA splice. It was more difficult than you'd expect."

Max blinked, recovering first, and said, "Yes, Carter, you've managed to surpass even our wildest expectations."

"We shouldn't let children near, though," Carter said. "Murphy nearly lost a finger yesterday."

Tess finally managed to close her gaping mouth and nodded. They waved with faux cheerfulness at the scientists who were staring fondly at the tank of biting apple monsters.

When they were back in the elevator, Tess whispered, "I can't imagine that going any worse."

"No?" Max asked. "Do you think they can get out of the tank?"

"Perhaps Security can disable the elevator at their level just in case," Tess said, leaning against the side of the elevator.

"Happy Halloween, Tess," Max said, shaking his head.

"Scariest day of the year," she agreed with a shudder.

October 11th:

"Were you bitten?" he asks.

I hesitate.

"Were you bitten?" he asks.

I hesitate. I know the infection is already oozing its way through my body. In twelve hours, the prion infection would begin eating my brain cells. In twenty-four hours, I'll become violent, insane, and rabidly interested in eating everyone around me.

I love this man, and we'd sworn to kill each other if infected. There is no hope for me or anyone bitten. Shooting me would save the lives of those around me... all these people huddling in the shelter, waiting for those infected to destroy themselves. If no one else is bitten, the infection will wipe out those bitten within a week. We could hold out a week... now that I'd brought back water.

"Were you bitten?" he asks again, searching my face.

I love this man."No... it was close, but no," I say.

I love myself more... besides... he looks sort of tasty.

October 12th:

"It's always the quiet ones, you know."

-from The Book of Matches

"I thought I'd find you here," he said, walking into the auditorium.

The professor was leaning against a seat's back staring at a chair.

"He sat here, Ted," the older man said, pointing at the chair in front of him.

Ted, sighing, leaned against the chair beside him. "You didn't know. You couldn't have known."

"He asked one question all year. One question," the professor said. "It took me off-guard. I shouldn't have answered it. I knew I shouldn't, but I did."

"He probably would have figured it out without your help." Ted patted his shoulder, consolingly, though he was lying. There were five people in the entire world that might have been able to answer that question and only one of them was easily approachable. The professor looked older than he had a month ago. He'd aged twenty years in a short amount of time. His hair looked patchy as if he'd been pulling it out in tufts. Now he took off his glasses to wipe moisture that had accumulated on the bottom edge. Ted pretended not to notice the older man's emotions. He had nothing to say... after all. What could be said? It was too late.

"You're not the bad guy," Ted tried. "HE turned it into a weapon. THEY are the ones about to use it as one. You just helped a student who raised his hand."

"No... I did much more than that... so much more. I just didn't recognize the moment until it was too late." He rubbed both his hands down his face, the quiet shadow of the man that had once won a nobel prize for physics. This was to have been his last semester teaching. A spurt of laughter broke through the older man's mouth, startling Ted. "He was auditing my class. Did I tell you that? He was auditing my damn class, Ted. Pass or Fail. The irony is that I failed, Ted. I FAILED."

Ted licked his lips and said, "We should get down below ground. The dean sent me to make sure you made it below ground."

"It doesn't matter."

"You didn't know," he said again. "It's always the quiet ones, you know?"

The professor laughed again, that dry hollow sound that wasn't humorous. "T.S. Eliot once said that 'this is the way the world ends not with a bang but with a whimper.' A quiet man for a quiet end, Ted." He shook his head and added, "No, I'll stay here. I'll sit a while. Go on, Ted... go on."

Ted nodded. He touched his shoulder and then left him there contemplating the chair that had once held a man determined to end the world.


  1. Wendy, oh my gosh! When I wrote that prompt about the driving exam I expected typical stuff. But you... you absolutely blew that one away!! SO AWESOME!!!
    Now, why can't I come up with things like that?!

  2. What? Are you crazy, Deb? Your post on Wednesday was awesome! You and Walt owned that day. You rocked!!!

    I like your prompts too. I'm excited about tomorrow's.