This week, I decided to finally participate in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. I chose an easy one for my first attempt, a challenge called “Five Words, Plus One Vampire.”
I had to incorporate three of the following five words into the story:
I also had to include a vampire in the story. And keep the story at 1,000 words. For this challenge, I used characters from one of the novels I am currently working on. So this story doubles as a brainstorming/promotional piece.
It isn’t too late for you to participate in the challenge either. Stories for this challenge aren’t due until next Friday, October 21st. I would love to see what you can come up with.
Enough babbling. Here is the story:
Lyris was thinking about the two dead men laying in her bedroom. She tried to remember how she had left their bodies tangled together when she left that morning. Killian had been laying on his stomach, his white skin was startling against the black sheets, as it always was. On some mornings Lyris would sit up in bed and just observe him for hours, appreciating the glow that still remained on his cheekbones, even hours after sunrise. Often, his dead hands, stiff with rigor mortis, would still be clutching a half empty bottle of red wine–poured in the wee hours of the morning to toast the coming dawn.
Leon did not look dead. He looked like he was sleeping. She had left him curled up on his side, his chest remarkably still against the bed. His blonde hair had grown long and spilled out over his pillow. She would lay beside his dead body and the scent that he carried in life still hung near him. Sandalwood and juniper. Sandalwood was the incense he burned in his office during those evenings he preferred to be alone. Junipers lined the path leading up to their house.
It had been a particularly long day at the Harrisburg County Community College, where she taught 20th century European history. Killian laughed when she chose to become a history major, and he reveled in the comments her professors had written on all her essays, telling her that she wrote about history with such accuracy and detail, it was as if she had actually lived it.
Lyris insisted on walking to campus, even though she lived a long ways off the main road, in the town of Lowest Heights, Vermont. The road that led to Lyris’s house was unpaved. Her feet crunched in the freshly spread pea gravel as she followed the river out of town towards Bennington. She was approaching a large stone bridge that arched over the river and led the road through the long meadow and up the hill upon which her house sat.
The weather was turning dark and wet. Every step Lyris made was like walking through water. She quickened her pace towards the house.. A dark cloud followed her as she quickly crossed the bridge, barely noticing how the wooden planks rattled under her weight. She was looking down as she walked. She always did. She was watching the ground and so she didn’t notice the girl until she was nearly on top of her.
The girl was sitting on the ruins of a fountain that once decorated the entrance lawn leading up to Lyris’s house, back in the nineteenth century.
The girl had jumped up when she saw Lyris’ face. “Professor Rousseau, what are you doing here?”
Lyris blinked and thought back to her classroom earlier that day, to the eager young girl sitting in the second row with glasses, freckles and red hair that was more copper in color than Lyris’s own. She had repeatedly asked Lyris questions about the World War II London Bombings, and Lyris couldn’t help but give the girl a descriptive, seemingly first hand account of the event.
Lyris pointed to her large house, up on the hill. She looked at the road leading up to her front driveway. It was so much shorter now. She wondered if she could dash for it.
The girl, who Lyris believed was called Jennifer, looked up at the house and looked back at Lyris, confused.
“I live there.” Lyris whispered. She realized how rude she was being, she hadn’t even acknowledged that she knew the girl, or said hello.
The rain began to fall. She had already said too much. She had to get away from the girl now.
“It was nice seeing you,” Lyris said. “I unfortunately have a dinner appointment I cannot miss and I am running late as it is…”
The rain heard Lyris. It released a violent rain down on both of them, instantly soaking the papers Lyris was carrying and ruining the cover of the book in Jennifer’s hand. Lyris looked desperately at the young girl, hoping she would rush home in the rain, but Jennifer just inched closer to Lyris.
“Can I please…”
The rest of what Jennifer had to say was lost by the sound of rain hitting in the river. Lyris shook her head.
Jennifer waved at the house on top of the hill. Lyris’s house. Killian’s house. Leone’s house. A dark mass of fear descended on Lyris and closed tightly around her. She knew what allowing that girl over her threshold meant.
She considered the easiest solution to her problem, and that was to turn away from the girl and run as fast as she could to her house, leaving Jennifer in the rain. That was the simple solution, but it wouldn’t stop the girl from coming back to see Lyris later with questions about an essay or an exam.
Lyris grabbed the girl roughly around the wrist and pulled her up towards the house. They both broke into a fast run as lightning split the sky behind them. The two of them bounded up the front steps. Jennifer stamped her feet on the wooden porch, which creaked under her weight, and shook the rain out of her hair. She was shivering from the cold.
Lyris had a key safely nestled in her front pocket, but she didn’t bother to dig it out. Instead, she turned towards a large, ornate box they kept in an alcove by the front door.
She opened it, and with a speed someone with only her powers could possess, pulled the Browning .99m from the box and fired three bullets straight into Jennifer’s heart. Jennifer never saw the gun, but her death mask still registered surprise as she lay back on the porch, the rain washing her blood down the front steps.
Lyris looked down at the body, satisfied. She had not allowed a visitor into the vampires’ home in one hundred and fifty years.