George

George

by

C.L. Gordon

 

Could it really be George? Out here in this desert?

The cracked clay under his bare feet–it reminded him of the texture of his snake skin boots. He should’ve worn them out here. Silly not to. Though, he didn’t remember leaving them. He didn’t remember his skin feeling this dry.

He thought to call the dog over. Company would be nice. But it couldn’t be George. George was long gone.

And he had to get home.

Which way was home?

The dog trotted over, tail wagging. A wet nose and two eyes shined like three points of polished onyx. Those floppy ears. It was his old golden retriever. The old nuisance! Long gone, always underfoot George! He would help. He would lead him home.

The man stepped forward and the dog’s tail stopped.

The golden retriever anxiously trotted back and forth sending brown tufts of dust to disperse in the still air, all the while keeping his eyes on the man. The man took another step, eager to start the journey. George barked. A warning.

The man recalled that George had always been a nervous dog. He raised his hand slowly and inched forward, hoping a gentle pet would assuage the anxious, pacing animal. George straightened his legs and lowered his head—the hair along his back bristled and he snarled.

“Come on, George,” the man raised his hand a little more.

A flurry of sharp barks were issued. He lowered his hand and the dog quieted, reverting back to his busy pacing.

“George, it’s me,” the man raised his hand, inciting a fresh firing of agitated protests.

Something came over the man.

Furious at the dog’s insubordination, the man lunged forward, fist clinched in remembrance of his usual discipline.

George whimpered and crouched. Then he ran. Fast as the sprint of a greyhound. Legs pushing the ground underneath with the ease of a pup. The man bolted after him, arms outstretched, anger rising at this unexpected flight from his fury. The speed was bewildering, George’s arthritis gone. The man took a lungful of  the blossoming brown dust trail raised by George’s paws. He coughed and cursed.

The man ran and spit obscenities at the faint figure of a canine, growing lighter and lighter in the blooms of dust. The dog disappeared from view. He trudged to a stop, breathing deep with each heavy step. There was nothing to do but hunch over, place his hands on his knees, and think how he’d renew the limp in George’s right back leg when he caught up to him.

The choked air cleared, revealing the bleached and cracked ground. The lines between each giant shard of clay widened and dissolved into endless black deeps, making each shard its own little island. Some jagged plates hovered upward, some sank. The man looked around to see a labyrinth of desert distorting his sense of direction, masking the golden horizon.

“Stupid dog,” the man mumbled, deciding which direction to commit to.

How could such a dumb animal be sent as his guide? The man shook his head.

Alone, he hopped from plate to plate until determination slowly yield to defeat. His dry eyes watered. He wept.

What Creeps in the Night

creeps

What Creeps in the Night

by C.L. Gordon

It wasn’t a chosen profession, the way she lived. It was a matter of survival. But she learned to accept the dangers of nightlife—even if it was just working for crumbs.

Alone in the big city. Living in some hole in the wall. It wasn’t enjoyable, especially being out this late. And when would this night end? Perhaps a peek could be had at the old woman’s watch, over there at the bus stop. She hurried over to the bench, weary of her surroundings.

Wait. Was the old woman pointing that timid, withered old finger in her direction? What was behind her? A mugger? A rapist? Some deranged fiend?

“Wha … what is it?”

The elderly woman’s eyes widened. “AHHHHHH!”

“What is it?!”

“AHHHHHH! WHY WON’T IT GO AWAY?!”

She looked up to see the old woman’s shoe hover briefly. The thick black heel came down fast.  SQUISH!

Everything went black. She couldn’t see the old woman shudder, but could hear her hoarse mumblings as life faded away:

“Can’t stand bugs, no I can’t … ‘specially cockroaches.”

 

The Contest Artist

contestartist2

I had an art teacher in high school that I was highly suspicious of. She rarely returned pieces that I submitted, and I always wondered what happened to them. Did she hang them on her walls? Did she take student projects and hoard them? Or did she get a thrill from thrashing hours of hard work? I imagined her laughing maniacally as she force fed pigment-soaked canvas and bristol board to a paper shredder.

This flash fiction piece was inspired by similar imaginings. In this particular scenario, I suspect that she used the assignments to pocket a little extra spending cash to supplement her teaching salary.