As I mentioned in this blog entry, I entered a Flash Fiction challenge despite a) Not having written Flash Fiction before, b) not really having time to enter such challenges and c) not actually knowing what Flash Fiction was. We’re now at the end of the first month of the challenge, and at a four piece per week rate, I should be posting the 15th or 16th piece by now,but reality intruded. That means I’m either going to fail the challenge by not getting enough done,or fail by having a bunch of kind of terrible stories cranked out before midnight. The second type of fail seems more noble,so i may well go for that. Here’s the eighth piece. This one clocks in at 371 words, which fits in my stated goal of “300 – 500 words, hopefully closer to the 300 end, though it is getting dangerously close to the 400 word threshold I’ve deftly avoided so far.”
It looked innocuous enough just sat there on the table, Bruce thought as he stared at the flask. Even the bitter odor reminded him of the extra strong French roast coffee that his roommate brewed back before he had found a wife and moved out.
Of course, the green-tinted steam that poured forth from the ventilation holes looked a whole lot more threatening than a simple espresso. Though to see that, you would have to catch the light at just about the perfect angle, and Bruce considered that to be a risk worth the taking. He re-affixed the breathing mask over his mouth and nose, and unscrewed the flask’s lid. His eyes started watering almost immediately. He dumped three heaping teaspoons of brown sugar into the flask to counteract the bitterness of the aroma and screwed the lid back on.
Bruce removed the mask and exhaled. Finally, his work was done. Delicately, he dropped the flask into his a backpack and pulled a strap over his left shoulder. He walked slowly and tried to keep his gait balanced, not wanting to upset the delicate equilibrium of the flask and its contents before he reached his destination.
Bruce took the Metro to Dulles airport, his heart lurching every time the train stopped and the backpack shook. He gripped the walls of the flask through the canvas of the pack, attempting to keep it steady and upright. He disembarked from the subway car at the airport stop and rode the escalator to the departure area. He knew that it would never clear security simply based on the volume of liquid. Bruce sauntered into the pre-security Starbucks and ordered a green tea Frappuccino®. Summoning as much willpower as possible, he stayed and drank his beverage, tossing the plastic cup into a trashcan. While by the trashcan, he took the flask from his backpack, loosened the lid a couple of turns and stashed it behind the trash. He could see the green steam venting from the flask.
With a smile, Bruce left the airport and headed back to the subway. As he rode the escalator down, he imagined he could hear the thump of his first victim’s body hitting the tiled floor of the Starbucks.