In the Group Flash Fiction Workshops, we write a complete story as a group in a limited time. Author Matthew Barron only serves as a guide and typist while the group determines everything else. Nothing is off limits as long as it is age-appropriate for all the participants of that particular session.
Laura Edwards, Mary Fitzpatrick, Lynn Frost, Reed Hartman, Melissa Kocias, Steve Peters, Bob Richey, Suzan Spitzburg, Loren Adel Ver with Matthew Barron
She wouldn’t let that happen again in the Temporal Accounts department. It had taken her a year to get approved for this transfer.
She smiles, nods, and sits. She repeats everyone’s name as they are introduced. Despite the surprise ambush and her crippling anxiety, things couldn’t be going better. Brad’s assistant, Conner, brings them all steaming foam cups. A brown circle forms on the table under Mary’s cup.
Mary hates coffee, but everyone else drinks, and she must fit in. She follows their lead and sips the dark, bitter beverage. A little drips on her white sleeve, but no one seems to notice.
She places the cup back on the table and folds her hand over the new stain. The brown circle expands under the cup.
Brad beams. “I’m so glad you like the coffee. It’s my personal blend. We live on it here.”
“Oh, it’s really good!” Mary takes another sip, barely hiding the disgust on her lips. The brown circle continues to bleed under the cup.
The staff drones on about a new time micromanagement app they would be beta testing this week. The new app will allow making small, surgical changes in time in order to affect larger outcomes instead of the unpredictable large scale manipulations of today.
She can feel them all stealing glances at her as they drink their coffee, noticing she hasn’t taken another sip. She lifts the bitter liquid to her lips. Something hot falls on her chest, drips down under her shirt and over her belly. Dark brown drips down her hand and she realizes the cup is leaking. She chugs the rest before any more can escape. Maybe now they will let her go to her new cubicle and get started. She didn’t become a temporal accountant to make friends.
Before she can object, Conner pours more coffee in the cup, filling it to the brim. Their eyes meet. The brown circle continues to creep, leaving an irregular puddle on the table. Conner smiles as though waiting for some further reaction. Mary lifts the cup to her lips and the bottom completely falls through. Hot brown scalds her wrist and sternum.
A light flashes.
Mary repeats everyone’s name as they are introduced again. She looks down at her pristine white blouse.
A dark circle forms under her foam cup, but Conner replaces it with another, saying, “This one should work better for you.”
Brad winks at her. “Welcome to Temporal accounts. Where we fix everything in past.”
Indypendent show Group A 11:30 am Sunday April 2, 2017
Justin Little with Matthew Barron
Jack recognized Jon, a trader who visited town frequently, but Jack had never seen him so disheveled. Littleburgh had been raided, the town burned to the ground. It instantly brought horrific images of the night four years ago when bandits had killed Jack’s parents. Jon said the raider’s next stop was here.
Men and women mounted the walls and armed themselves at the gates. Jack grabbed a gun and waited. He was too young last time, but this time, he would fight!
The waiting was painful, but the thundering hooves got louder and louder and Jack could feel the pounding in his jaw.
The people on the wall released flaming arrows. Jack wished he could see if they were hitting their mark . Men on the wall shouted and the gate creaked open. The bandits weren’t equipped to deal with a town that was prepared. Their horses were already down when Jack and Jon rushed out of the gates with rifles blazing. It was almost comical to see the bandits darting away on foot. The refugees from Littleburgh let out a cheer and chased them down, but the villains escaped into the woods.
The raiders would be back, but Jack and the town would be ready.
Baryn Barnes with Matthew Barron
Leroy shakes his head. “No one in the hood drinks Jack Daniels. You don’t want to stand out when we get to Jacki’s. If you see Leroy run, you run.”
Baryn raises an eyebrow. “Are you serious?”
The loud clatter of cigarette boxes and smashing bottles resounds through the store. In the overhead mirror, Baryn spots two men in ski masks pointing guns at the cashier. Baryn pulls Leroy aside and they duck in the aisle.
Boom! A shot rings out. By the time Baryn and Leroy reach the cashier, the robbers are gone and the cashier is on the floor, chest heaving, blood pooling underneath him.
An old man with leathery skin starts shouting from the door “You just shot that man!”
“It wasn’t us!” Baryn insists.
“I saw you!” the man continues to shout. “A white man and a black man ran in!”
“That wasn’t us!” Baryn repeats.
“He won’t believe us!” Leroy says. “Run!”
Leroy takes off. Baryn is trailing Leroy, but catches up quickly. “Where are we running to?”
Sirens blare behind them, and the old man shouts, “They went that way!”
“Crap!” Baryn shouts. “Let’s just stop and explain the situation.”
“They won’t believe us!”
Leroy grabs Baryn and the inertia pulls them both to the ground.
“Damn it Leroy!”
Leroy points at the cop cars surrounding the train station.
Leroy takes off running in another direction. “Keep to the shadows.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
Leroy finally arrives at a rundown tenement. They climb the stairs and bang on door 3B.
Jacki pulls open the door. “Your early! Party doesn’t start until 10:00.”
Leroy gives Jackie a kiss on the cheek and sinks into a comfortable chair.
Baryn is out of breath. “What are you doing? They’re going to catch us!”
Leroy shakes his head and pops open a beer. “Nah. Not anymore. We all look alike.”