I saw that Chuck Wending posted a Flash Fiction Challenge this past Friday, and since tonight I was just goofing off online before spending all of Sunday studying for a test, I said, “Sure, why not?” So, challenge accepted!
Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Photo Story – Write a 1000-words-max flash fiction piece based around three random photographs.
Here are my three photographs:
My story is called Parati, and clocks in at 986 words. I wrote it cold; I looked at the pics for like three minutes and started writing, letting the story emerge as I went. It was a fun exercise, especially after two weeks of being in “nursing school” mode. I warn you, it gets a little graphic toward the end, but just a little. Feedback is appreciated. Enjoy.
Parati swam slowly towards the pier, enjoying the undulating waves lapping against her skin in the early morning hour. She felt sated, content, at peace. That she had no idea how she had made it into the water was, strangely, not something that was bothering her at the moment, though it certainly should have. The blackouts had become more frequent over the last year, since leaving her namesake city in Brazil to live in Miami, much to the chagrin of her family. They were all usually the same: periods of amnesia following moments of high stress. From her best calculations, they usually lasted a few hours, a night at most, though there had been that one right when she first moved that lasted a couple of days and ended with her standing in the middle of the Everglades, miles away from her home near Downtown Miami, overlooking Biscayne Bay.
It was in Biscayne Bay that she found herself right now, swimming towards the pier. She wouldn’t be able to tell how long this last blackout had been until she made it home, but unlike all the other times, she didn’t care at all today. She also didn’t care that she was naked and had no idea how she’d make it the fifteen or so blocks north to her apartment. It’s as if there was a part of her mind that should have been panicking, but instead had been assaulted by a brigade of endorphins and overpowered into submission, rendering worry irrelevant.
She finally made it to the pier. She climbed the ladder out of the water and walked down the wooden path to the ramshackle little harbor made from abandoned sidewalk in this forgotten part of Downtown Miami. A homeless guy cuddling under a large ratty blanket eyed her as she walked by but turned back to whatever dreams he had been having. Parati simply walked on, the water dripping down her naked skin onto the cracked cement. She realized something stung on her abdomen and looked down to see a gash, maybe six inches long, going from right under her left breast to right above her belly button. It was raw but not bleeding. She could not remember how she’d gotten it. Yet she did not feel unease. She simply walked on.
The sun started to show above the Miami Beach skyline on the opposite side of the bay, bathing her with orange light as she made her way up backstreets unknown to most people driving up Biscayne Boulevard just a few blocks west. Eventually she reached her building, a forgotten piece of 1940s construction that by all standards should have been demolished years ago. There were four apartments, all rented out to immigrants for fairly reasonable rates, considering the entire structure would hardly survive any hurricane to hit the city. Parati loved her apartment; it was hers, and hers alone.
She walked through the creaky gate, oblivious to Mr. Gonzalez, the eighty-two year old Cuban ex-trucker that rented apartment 1 and sat outside his door, dawn to dusk, every day, smoking cigars smuggled in from his native Havana. Parati walked up the stairs to her apartment, number 3, right above Mr. Gonzalez’s, also oblivious to the three dead cats right by the foot of the stairs. Had she stopped to look, she would have seen that all three cats had had their tiny hearts ripped out through small holes in their chests, and that there was a trail of dried blood leading up the stairs as well.
Parati opened the door, not being the least surprised to find it unlocked, and walked to her couch. She sat down, contemplating the small living room, which was now kind of messy, with things strewn all over the place, as if there had been some commotion here. The last memory she had of this room was of a morning as she left for work. Was that yesterday, the day before? She wasn’t sure and strangely, unlike other times when she’d come out of a blackout, desperate for information, this time she did not care.
She saw her clothes lying all about the room. She assumed those were the ones she had been wearing before the blackout. She also saw a pair of old, dirty, torn jeans, and a pair of tattered shoes. A dark streak led from the living room into the one bedroom. She stood up and walked to the door of the bedroom, opened it. Lying on the bed was the undressed body of a man she did not know, his chest cracked open, ribs sticking out like fingers pleading to heaven. The man’s face was slumped, his eyes semi-closed, mouth slightly agape. There was blood all over the bed and floor, and Parati could see the streak that led from the living room as it ended at the foot of the bed. She walked to the body, peeked inside the chest cavity, saw that the heart was missing. Without knowing why, she dipped her index finger into the chest and licked the blood off it. It wasn’t warm anymore, but it still tasted good. Though she felt sated, she also felt a desire for more. She sat on the bed, reached in and tore out a lung. It wasn’t a heart, but it was still good. She bit into the soft tissue and ate.
It all came back to her: the urge, the cats, the desire, the hunt, the man, the struggle, the gash, the strike, the heart, the walk, the water. It was the man that had made the difference. She’d never eaten a man’s heart before. Now she had, and that had brought her peace at last. Somehow she knew the blackouts would cease now. From now on she’d hunt consciously, at peace with who she was, what she was. She bit once more into the lung and smiled.