Sunday, March 28, 2010

FFF #26 - 250 Words - "Say Goodbye"

Cormac, the host of Friday Flash Fiction, provided us with the starter sentence this week - "What do you see when you close your eyes?" I did not give this sentence a thought until Friday morning as I headed to the bike shop. An idea popped in when I had no way to record it for later treatment. Usually when this happens, I can never remember the idea later when seated with fingers poised ready to pour it out onto the screen. But damn if I wasn't able to remember 90% of it and that I wanted to do it in 250 words. I'm becoming a big fan of 250 words. Constraining, but not so much you can't make a point. Short enough for the ADD types like me. And it's a hoot to try to do it in 250 words.

I am not sure why it is yet another violent rip and tear piece. Maybe it has to do with the current political atmosphere. Been watching too much of Glenn Beck and Hannity I guess. Anyway, I went where the sentence took me.

Another odd thing about this piece. As usual I wrote it first and then found the image. As well as the image fits, I almost expect Harlan Ellison to knock on my door at any moment with a knife in his hand.

"Say Goodbye"

"What do you see when you close your eyes?"

Axle was not even thinking about closing his eyes. Not with that knife in Jack Top’s hand pressed so hard an inch or two under his left ear.

Jack Top grabbed Axle’s hair and roughly tilted his head back. "I said, what do you see when you close your eyes?" Axle knelt whimpering and losing control of his bladder. He looked up into Jack Top's eyes.

Axle had always been slow on the uptake. It took him a second, but he closed his eyes. Some seconds later they fluttered open. "Uh, nothing Jack Top. Don’t see a thing. Black I guess. Why?" Piss began to soak through Axle’s pants and into the carpet.

Jack Top closed his eyes. His free hand gripped Axle’s hair so hard he could feel some of it coming loose at the roots. “I tell you what Axle. When I close my eyes, I see red. Beautiful red everywhere. Nothin but red.” Jack Top then sliced Axle’s throat open from ear to ear.

Jack Top stood staring down at the wet red gash he had created under Axle’s chin. He watched the gushing blood drain the life out of Axle’s eyes. A look of serenity and calm came over Jack Top’s face. He sighed and closed his eyes again. His knife fell to the floor.

Rivet Head whispered, “If he ever asks me that, what do I say?”

Zip looked at him and said, “You say goodbye.”

Image - Acrylic by Joe Machine of the Stuckists

Edited out after David read it the first time - "He stared hard into Axle’s eyes as Axle knelt whimpering and losing control of his bladder."


Flannery Alden said...

I really liked this. I think it's fun to write short stuff too. It really causes you to get to the essence of the story, which you did with aplomb!

Crybbe666 said...

250 words seems to suit your hack and slash style. Great final few lines as well. Goodbye, indeed!!

David Barber said...

Nice work Mike. You created atmosphere in such a short piece. My only "critique" woulb be that you used Axel twice within 4 words instead of he or who.

"He stared hard into Axel's eyes, who knelt whimpering...." Something like that, but I'm no expert. :-)

Regards, David.

MRMacrum said...

Flannery Alden - Short fiction is helping me to write for the story, not just to see the words. Glad you liked it - Thanks much.

Crybbe666 - Hack and slash? Excellent. Thanks.

David - Yup. You are absolutely right. I sat there and looked at this. I knew something bothered me, but then lately I have been doing what I call hit and run writing, spending way less time than I should on these.

Here is my problem. Do I fix it now or let it ride? The anal retentive editor in me wants to correct it right away. I may just have to cave to his whining and fix it if I expect any peace the rest of the day.

Thanks for the head's up.

The Blog Fodder said...

Not my kind of fiction but very well done. 250 words is a challenge.

And go ahead and edit. It is never too late.

Anonymous said...

250 worked well here, Mike -- and you set up the two people very quickly -- nice last line --

I am like you; I used to spend way too much time on these -- now run n gun. But....

as far revising/fix I would say no -- if you do that, you might as well flesh it out and do more with it in a longer piece imho

Anonymous said...

grisly and graphic and now I want to read the entire novel. When will it be in bookstores near me.

susana said...

oops, I didn't mean to post anonymously.

Beach Bum said...

Nice tension and fear. Great story.

Doc said...

I say never be afaid to edit/rewrite. Why let a good tale suffer for a few blemishes, when it could be a great tale that brings more pleasure to the reader?

My hat is off to you Mike, as I just can't seem to do 250 word pieces. At 250, I just got started.

I know the pic came after the story but Jack Top just seems like a crazed sailor to me and did a lot to build the story in my mind's eye. Nice job all the way around, as always.


Randal Graves said...

Now that was extra Clockwork Orange-y.

Nicole E. Hirschi aka CJT said...

I agree with some of the other comments made earlier, you do 250 words very well. I think it might just be your niche!

A great gory read MRM - and I love gore!

MRMacrum said...

Blog Fodder - Before I got into this fiction thing so deeply, I was sure it wasn't my kind of fiction either.

rohrbacher - Well I did edit it. Not sure it helped, but there it is. One of my curses is I cannot leave my stuff alone.

susana - Hey. One step at a time. I'm still getting this liner note thing down.

Beach Bum - Thanks Beach, I was aiming for that.

Doc - I actually began these micr fiction efforts to help me tighten my writing. Get more bang out of each word. Now I find myself really enjoying the challenge more than the exercise. Thanks for the atta boy.

Randal - Actually I had Harlan Ellison in mind when I wrote this. But yeah, I can see Anthony Burgess in this one. The Droogs all hanging out under some bridge and Alex takes out some anger on one of them.

Nicole - Thanks I appreciate it. You are indeed the gore master of our crew. And actually, it was one of your earlier graphic renditions that jogged me to attempt a piece with more gore in it.