The door crashed open, and Jake shuffled awake, the last traces of sleep still ravaging his body as he turned to the rectangle of yellow light. The echoes of the door slamming against the wall still reverberated around his squalid studio apartment.
Jake stared at the doorway, blinking owlishly as he tried to adjust to the light. He expected to see a figure silhouetted in the doorway, probably the landlord after the rent that Jake knew he would pay any day now. After all, it was only a week, maybe two, overdue.
The doorway remained stubbornly empty to the naked eye but Jake could hear movement to the left of the battered door, as something knocked the card table he used as a dining table to the floor sending two grease-filmed plastic plates rolling towards him.
“Who’s there?!” Jake yelled.
A high-pitched howl answered him. Jake’s spine was jelly. Against his better judgement Jake headed towards the source of the howl. He grabbed a discarded soda bottle to use as a weapon. As Jake stepped closer to the animalistic sounds they faded into silence. The apartment’s atmosphere crackled with an electric tension.
The howl emanated from behind Jake before abruptly falling silent. Jake tensed, swinging the soda bottle like a club, hoping for some kind of impact.
A solid weight slammed into the small of Jake’s back, staggering him to his knees. He exhaled a single grunting breath as golden spots shimmered in front of his eyes. Thrashing desperately with the soda bottle, Jake connected and a meaty sounding crunch with a canine whine rewarded him. The pressure on Jake’s back subsided.
He turned around with some difficulty to see, nothing. Just the usual detritus of a young bachelor’s apartment, in this case a pile of discarded junk mail stacked haphazardly on the floor. The pile was distorted as though something between it and Jake was bending the light. Crimson fluid flowed onto the mail staining the corners of the topmost envelope.
If Jake stared at the odd light distortions, he could just about make out the shimmering shape of a small terrier-like dog. The animal’s ear and the side of its mouth were a little distorted from being hit with the soda bottle.
Jake looked at his makeshift club. Thrashing the semi-visible dog rendered the weapon into so many bits of scrap plastic, so he tossed it away. The animal, if that’s what it was, let out a low throaty growl and padded towards Jake on uncertain paws.
“It’s okay, boy, I don’t want to hurt you.” Jake said in a voice he desperately hoped sounded soothing. The creature paused, cocked its head to one side. It continued to walk towards Jake, but with a much less aggressive posture.
Jake looked around for something to give the creature as a peace offering and spotted a half empty packet of beef jerky. He proffered it to the creature, who wolfed it down. As the creature ate, it became visible.
The origin of this piece was that I realized I’d been stuck in a non-writing rut for a while and needed some inspiration to break out of it. To that end I posted in the Richmond WriMos Facebook group asking for a prompt so that I can “bang out a 500 worder.” I received two prompts, and this is my response to the first prompt which was “The door crashed open, and…”
The piece above is 499 words according to Microsoft Word, which isn’t a bad length for flash fiction. It’s also very much a first draft, so please keep that in mind.
As ever, any and all feedback is welcome!