The flash challenge this week went something along the lines of ‘throw a corpse into the first paragraph’. What I finally came up with is nothing like my initial ideas. Anyway, here it is…


The corpse lays spreadeagled in her trailer. Bare-backed, bloated and face-down, she knows his face will be rictus-twisted and plastered with the chunks of puke pooling around his jowls. She knows the vomit will be lodged in his nostrils and clogging up wind pipe. She knows, too, that if she rolls his dumb arse over, takes a knife to his livermortis man tits, hacks through ribs and sternum and plucks out his juicy, tar-blackened lungs, she’ll find a puree of half-digested nachos, beer and burger clogging him up. It’d be the lump of spew that turned his face red then blue before letting gravity take over and settle on rotten-blood-purple.

She plucks a knife from a draw on uneven rollers, considers an excavation into the world of death by asphyxiation. She can imagine his belly peeling open beneath the blade, pink skin giving way to a carpet of yellow fat. She supposes it won’t be much different to hacking up a fresh-shot hog, only maybe slightly smellier. She thinks about digging around inside her man just to see if there actually was a heart beating beneath the lard and the moobs and the nicotine-scarred lungs.

She realises she’s two steps closer, squatting next to the corpse with the off-brand carving knife in her hand and a cool breeze whirling up her denim skirt and around her naked cooze. She can’t tell if his stink is better or worse than when he was alive, but she feels a glimmer of relief that the slow tightening of his hands, arms and shoulders isn’t going to end up earning her two black eyes and a fresh gap between her teeth.

Slowly, she rises out of her crouch, replaces the blade in the dysfunctional drawer and catches her reflection in dirty glass. She turns her head left to right, examining the lacklustre state of her greasy blonde hair. Midday sunlight glances off her pasty skin, shading in the pimples and acne scars dimpling her flesh. Nose wrinkling at the taste, she sucks down a breath and leans one last time towards the body.

For the first time in twenty years, her rock-steady fingers pinch his brown leather wallet, slip it from his jeans before sliding it into the hip of her skirt.

“It’s been a funny day, honey,” she say, turning toward the open door, her right hand mussing her oily locks.

“I’m going out to get me a treatment. Don’t wait up.”

She steps from the shadowed confines of her home-on-wheels. For the first time in a long time, the sun feels warm against her skin.


Red Expanse

This is in response to Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge (here).  The title I got is the title I used. After about a thousand false starts, this is what I got:

Red Expanse.

My struggle with the finer points of chow mein creation ends when Nikki’s scream begins.

Her diamond-tipped wail cuts through my apartment, shredding my nerves and my ears with the push-pull action of respiration.

In a half-second of silence, my body breaks under the sonic assault. My legs and arms twitch but won’t move. My heart skips and flutters in my chest.

She does it again.  Her shriek shatters whatever spell’s holding me in place, smashes the frost around my joints and limbs.

I dart from the kitchen, head down, chest tight.,

“Nikki,” I bellow, bull-eyes scanning the five-room box.

“Daddy! Help me!”

The bathroom door’s down before I realise my foot’s raised. My fists are like hammers and my mouth is a desert.


Her little voice trembles along with her bottom lip.

My baby’s in the tub, wet hair plastered to the sides of her head. Her hands reach for me, trembling and pale. Her shock-white skin stands in sharp contrast against the vermilion water.

I take a step on shaking legs. My eyes flash from the tub to her water-jeweled wrists. There’s no razor on the edge and….

“It’s okay baby.”

I grab a towel and scoop her up. Her wet hair chills my face as she wraps her arms around my neck. She hugs me so hard I can almost feel her teeth against mine. Her body trembles in my arms.

“I’m scared daddy,”

“It’s going to be okay,” I say, reaching for the plug chain then backing out so she can’t see the water draining away.

I walk her through to the sofa, pull my phone from pocket. I don’t know what to do, what to say, but I know someone who does.

“You want me to see if Sally can come over?”

My ten-year-old beams and it makes me feel bad. I should know about these things, how to care for my kid. I’d always just assumed Jenny would have been around to tackle them.


It’s pretty much the first coherent thing I’ve written in about a year so I guess I owe Mr. Wendig some thanks.