Flash fiction

In honour of the flash fiction comp over at the Aussie Owned and Read blog (of which I am a proud contributor) I have written a little flash fiction of my own.

Obviously I am not allowed to enter the comp, but I thought to inspire you to write some as well. It’s good practice and loads of fun!

Now, I didn’t use the photo over there as my inspiration, instead I watched some of the students I was supervising today at school. A bit random, I know, but hey, that’s just me.

So I hope you enjoy this little bit of writing. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think 🙂

The Art of Assimilation

By Susan. M. Hocking

© March 2013

She sat in class trying to blend in. Actually, she wasn’t trying; she was excelling. Besides, her life depended on her ability to assimilate. Despite her pale, translucent skin, dark hair and lithe figure, no one seemed to notice that she was different.
On so many levels.
She chatted casually with the girls around her as if they had the world in common. She smiled and laughed, looking them in the eyes when she spoke. Just like any other normal girl their age. The other students were completely at ease around her.
Yes. She assimilated well, but whether that was due to her incredible acting skills or her ability to manipulate emotions, one couldn’t tell. That’s why she’d survived as long as she had.
There weren’t many of her kind left in the world. Hunted down and eliminated by The Others, one by one. She was one of the few left and she was determined to survive. So she carried on doing what she did best; blending in, acting normal, pretending to be human.
The only problem was; she hadn’t fooled me.
Yes, to the untrained eye she was just another human, albeit a supernaturally beautiful one, but I could see right through her carefully constructed veneer. Right through to the dark, swirling mass of evil deep within.
Except it wasn’t there.
It should have been. Every other one of her kind I’d hunted and destroyed had it inside them. That’s why we, The Others, did what we did, so they couldn’t spread their evil around the globe.
In place of the evil swirling mass was a bright blue light. In the centre it was a blue orb. Rays of brightness radiated out from it. It was so glorious it almost hurt to look at. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps she was not one of them, but something else entirely.
No. She was the one I was sent to destroy. She was one of them. I had to do my job. She had to be destroyed.
As if sensing my thoughts she jerked her head up in a sudden panic, her eyes boring straight into mine. Dark, soulful pools of chocolate, wide and fearful held my own eyes. Her lips, quivering ever so slightly, parted softly in a silent plea. I wouldn’t look away and be the one to break the connection. I couldn’t. It was as if our eyes were physically connected somehow.
They were always afraid when they recognised me, but never before had I been able to see anything resembling a soul in one of them.
My thoughts faltered. One half of my conscience telling me she was evil and must be obliterated, the other half recognising that she was different from the rest. Instead of my usual thirst for the destruction of one of these monsters, I was now curious. Could she be a genetic anomaly? Was she the only one, or were others of her kind like her? Imagine what we could learn if I could just capture her alive.

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The Nightmare of Her Dreams – A short story

The nightmare of Her Dreams
by Susan Hocking
© 2012

It didn’t seem to matter in which direction she ran, the maze would just spit Victoria out in the exact same spot every few minutes. She felt like she was running in slow motion, not getting anywhere fast, just like in a bad dream. Except this bad dream was a very real nightmare. How had she not seen this coming? How had she not realised what her fiancé was until after the wedding, when he became her husband, and it was already too late? She felt so stupid, so helpless. She had loved him with all her heart and it had blinded her to the truth. She had to get away. Where she would go, she didn’t know. Just away from this place, away from her new husband and the awful truth about him.

She looked up. Grey cumulus clouds were building against the fading blue of the late afternoon sky. Already, she could pick out the pinky-purple hues of the approaching dusk. She was running out of time. She didn’t want to think about what the darkness of night might bring. If she did, she might have been too terrified to move. She picked up her pace, hoping and praying that this corridor of green would be the one that would lead her to the outside, to safety. There it was, the end of the corridor. She stumbled over the edge of her dress as she broached the gap in the green and landed hard on her knees on the uncompromising gravel. She steeled herself for a brief second, sucking in a lungful of air and trying not to think of the pain in her knees, then she lifted her head. Only to see the same damned statue fountain she had seen at least five times before.

Victoria choked back the tears that threatened to spill. If she started to cry now she would never get out of this horrible place. She had to stay strong. There had to be a way out, didn’t there? She picked herself up off the gravel, dusting her once white wedding dress off. Although, she needn’t have bothered as it was now dirty and torn in several places. She looked around for a different entrance back into the maze from the ones she had taken before, sent up a quick prayer, and started running again, the tall, green walls of the maze swallowing her up.

She wished there was a way to see over the walls, but they were just too tall, easily twice her height. She felt trapped, closed in with nowhere to hide. Not that hiding was an option. Not with her voluminous, white wedding dress on. The layers upon layers of, what was once pure white, satin and flowing georgette was like a frothing sea, swishing rhythmically around her legs as she ran down the evergreen hallways of the maze, the train dragging behind her along the dirty white gravel path. Even over the tall, leafy walls she could see the imposing balconies and turrets of the castle that was supposed to have been her new home. The castle which she had once dreamed of living in, of running as the Countess de Bouillion. Now, when she thought of what was inside that castle, all the dreadful secrets it no doubt held, her stomach roiled in disgust and horror.

“Victoria,” a faraway, sing-song voice called after her. The voice had a dream-like quality to it, but Victoria knew all too well that this was not a dream. She knew that the man behind the voice was more of a nightmare than any dream she had ever dreamt. “Victoria, my Darling. Why do you run from me?” The voice carried over the maze walls, rustling the leaves as it floated down to her ears. She could barely hear it over the pounding of her own heart. “Don’t you want to be the Queen of my castle? The Queen of my heart?”

“No!” Victoria screamed. “I do not want to be your Queen!” She had stopped running and had tilted her head back to look up at the sky. The light was almost gone now. She wanted to cry.

“But my Darling, why then did you marry me, if not to become my Queen?” The sing-song voice was closer now, louder, piercing straight through Victoria’s heart. Her fear was palpable and she was sure that he could smell it. She wondered if he was enjoying her fear, feasting on it like the monster she now knew that he was. Oh, how could she have been so blind? The gravel crunched under her feet as she started running yet again. “Come, my Darling. Come to me and let me truly make you my bride, my wife, my Queen.” Never! She would never give herself up willingly to him. She would run for as long as she had breath. Victoria threw herself through the opening in the living maze wall. Please, oh please let it be the exit.

“No,” she moaned. “No, no, no!” This could not be happening. She was back at the statue fountain. She was running out of options, she was running out of light, she was running out of time.

“Ah, there’s my good girl, my beautiful bride.” Victoria gasped and whipped around, her legs tangling in the dress she had worn to wed the man of her dreams. She had never imagined he would turn out to be the man nightmares were made of. He was standing casually in one of the entryways, holding a blazing torch in one hand. “It’s getting late, my Dearest. Don’t you think it’s time to stop playing this silly little game and come back to the castle with me?” Victoria started backing away as her husband took a step towards her. She didn’t get far, however, as she backed into a maze wall.

“I don’t want to go anywhere with you,” she spat. She was trying to maintain an air of confidence, but she knew she wasn’t fooling him. He knew she was terrified.

“Well, I’d rather not leave you to die here in this maze. You’ll never get out of it without me, Darling,” he said with a small half-smile. “Come with me, be my Queen and we can live happily ever after. Isn’t that what you wanted? For us to be together forever? I do believe I remember you sharing that sentiment with me many times in the past.”

Yes, well,” she gulped back the pain that arose from hearing her own words thrown back into her face. “That’s what you say when you’re in lov –“

“That is right, my darling Victoria,” he purred, “You do love me, you married me. So why the childish games?”

“Yes, I do – I mean, I did love you,” she stuttered. “Before I knew the truth. You lied to me, you tricked me. It was all just a game to you.” Hot tears pricked at her eyes as they started to track down her cheeks, smearing her mascara as they went. She felt as if her heart had splintered apart, leaving nothing but a gaping hole in her chest.

“Oh my Darling, it was always more than just a game.” He had stepped close now, his body a mere hand span from hers. He ran a finger down the side of her face ever so gently, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand to attention. His touch used to send tingles down her spine for a completely different reason, before she knew the truth. She really had loved him with her whole being. Now they were shivers of pure terror. “I wanted you the moment I laid eyes on you, my dearest Victoria. I always knew you would make the perfect Queen for me.” He caught one of her tears on the tip of his finger and looked at it with a hunger in his eyes. Then he placed his finger between his full lips and sucked on it. He brought his violet eyes back to her own ocean-blue ones, pulling her against his muscular torso with one arm around her waist. He could feel the tremble that coursed through her body.

“Why Curtis? Why did you have to choose me?” she whispered, her eyes fluttering closed in defeat. There was not going to be any escape. She resigned herself to her fate as Curtis de Bouillion lowered his mouth to her slim neck, placing his lips over her main artery. He kissed her softly, the touch of his lips feather soft on her skin.

“Because you are the only one for me. You have always been, and always will be the only one I will ever want. Forever,” he whispered, and he plunged his razor-sharp fangs into her delicate neck.

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Tactical Manouevres – A short story

Tactical Manouevres
By Susan Hocking
© 2012

Four year old Amber was sitting in her booster seat at the dining room table, her lunch set in front of her. Her mother was in the kitchen washing the dishes and humming quietly to herself. Amber sat there watching her mother, not eating. She wasn’t particularly interested in her lunch. She wasn’t a fan of tinned spaghettios. Especially not lukewarm tinned spaghettios. Her mother never heated the little mushy rings in sauce long enough. Amber thought she would have preferred them cold if she had to eat them at all. She slumped in her chair and stared at the offending excuse for food swilling around in her pink princess bowl. She knew that if she ate enough of the slush she would be able to see a picture of her favourite princess, Snow White, in the bottom of the bowl.

“Amber, eat up Sweetie. As soon as you’re done with your spaghettios it’s time for you nap,” her mother said, not even looking up from her dishes. The humming started up again and Amber was once again left to her lunch. She decided she didn’t want to take a nap. She thought she was too old for day sleeps now, but her mother always forced her to have them. She didn’t know why she decided to do it exactly, but the one day she had pretended to fall asleep. After a little while she had snuck out of her bedroom and found her mother snoring on the couch, the T.V. on in the background. She’d looked at what was on and decided that it wasn’t any wonder her mother had fallen asleep. Cartoons were far more interesting than that woman dressed in a black bathrobe, yelling at people and slamming a hammer on her desk.

She picked up her little spork (a spoon-shaped fork perfect for scooping and stabbing at the same time), complete with a Snow White handle that was ergonomically designed for little hands, and readied herself to spoon some of the slush into her mouth. She scooped, watching the red sauce dripping through the tines of the spork and splashing back into the bowl. How was she supposed to eat all of her lunch if the sauce didn’t stay on the spork? She let the utensil drop back into the bowl and it sploshed droplets of the sauce onto her mother’s white table cloth. Oops! She slid the bowl over the stain and peeked back at her mother to make sure she had not seen her little accident. Her mother was still humming, head down scrubbing a frying pan. Amber thought of another stall tactic that worked every time.

“Mama, I’m thirsty,” she whined. She didn’t get off her chair because she knew she would have to go straight to bed if she did so. “Mama, I neeeeeed a drink,” she tried again.

“What do you say Amber?” her mother scolded from the kitchen sink.

“I’m thirsty, I need a drink,” replied the little girl. She knew exactly what her mother wanted her to say, but she really didn’t feel like saying it. She was testing the boundaries today.

“I’m not getting you a drink until you say the magic word,” her mother prompted, giving Amber the sideways evil mother’s eye.

“Please?” Amber replied.

“Please what?” asked her mother. Oh, so she wanted more than just the magic word after-all.

“Please, Mama, can I have a drink? I’m thirsty,” said Amber with a little sigh. Her mother could be so tiresome sometimes, but she played along anyway. Anything to stall naptime.

“Please, Mama, may I have a drink,” corrected her mother. “Yes, you may have a drink Sweetie.” Her mother rummaged through the cupboard and pulled out a pink, plastic cup with Snow White on it, and filled it with water from the tap. She started to walk around the kitchen bench to give it to Amber when,

“No Mama! I don’t want water, I want juice!” demanded the little girl. She shook her head vigorously, which made her tight, blonde ringlets dance around her pretty little face. Well it would have been pretty of it wasn’t scrunched up in a frown.

“We don’t say want Sweetie, you know that. Ask nicely.” Her mother leaned up against the kitchen bench and waited. This was exactly what amber was hoping for. Although, she was getting legitimately thirsty now, and she hadn’t even started eating her spaghettios yet.

“Please Mama, may I have some juice? I don’t like water,” she said, adding a little extra sweetness to her already high-pitched voice. Her mother dumped the water down the drain and refilled the cup with juice.

“There you go, now eat and drink up, you need a nap.” Amber didn’t think she did, but obviously her mother did. She wondered what would happen if she refused to have one. She glared at her bowl. This just wasn’t going to do. She needed a new strategy.

“Feed me please Mama,” she said as she turned big, brown puppy-dog eyes on her mother. “The sauce won’t stay on my spork.” She dipped the spork back in and scooped up the sauce, which promptly ran back through the tines again. With a huff her mother plopped down in the chair next to her and started spooning the horrid stuff into Amber’s mouth. Amber grimaced. The lunch was now cold, and it was slimy. She decided she was wrong about preferring this stuff cold over lukewarm. She wondered if her mother would enjoy eating the stuff herself. She didn’t think so. Eventually Amber could see Snow White peeking back at her from the bottom of the bowl, though she was still half hidden behind globules of sauce. “I’m full Mama,” she said. She thought if she ate one more disgusting bite she would vomit the whole lot back up into the bowl. Wouldn’t her mother be pleased with her then?

“Alright then. Drink your juice quickly. You need to go to bed.” Her mother’s tone was slightly impatient and she was looking at the microwave clock in the kitchen anxiously. What was the rush? It’s not as if she had anything important to do. If Amber was asleep, well, what else was there for her mother to do? Amber slurped her juice down and watched her mother from the corner of her eye. Her mother was tapping her fingers on the table impatiently. Amber finished her drink and placed the cup carefully on the table top. “Finally,” her mother mumbled to herself. “Time for bed young lady.” She didn’t give Amber a chance to get up off the chair as she lifted the little girl into her arms.

“But Mama, I don’t want to go to bed. I’m not tired.” Amber wriggled. She knew if she wriggled enough her mother wouldn’t be able to hold her and would put her down, giving her the chance to stall further.

“Oh yes you are tired. It is naptime and there is no use arguing with me. You are going to bed.” Her mother held firm, no matter how much the little girl squirmed. Amber’s mother carried her all the way to her bedroom door.

“No Mama,” Amber started to whimper. “I don’t want to go to bed.” A small crocodile tear slid down her plump, pink cheek. Tears normally worked for just about everything.

“Oh Sweetie. Why not? It will be good to have a nap.” Her mother squeezed her close and wiped away the lone tear.

“Because…because…” Amber had to think quickly if she was going to get her way. She could feel the power she held over her mother slipping. She needed something good, something brilliant. She let another tear slip out. “Because I’m afraid of the…of the…zombies.”

“The zombies? Do you even know what a zombie is?” her mother was incredulous. Did Amber push it too far? She had no idea what a zombie was, but she had heard some of the older boys at her daycare centre talking about them yesterday. From the way they were acting she thought zombies must be awfully scary. So she gave her head a little nod, her ringlets bobbing up and down with it. She put on her saddest, most scared expression she could muster and hoped for the best. “Okay. Then you can come and nap on the couch next to me. I’ll keep the zombies away,” her mother said with a knowing smile. Her strategy had worked. Amber could hardly believe it. Zombies for the win!

As Amber lay on the couch with her head in her mother’s lap, her mother stroking her soft curls, she wondered if she could pull it off again tomorrow. She could barely believe that she had finally managed to pull one over on her mother. The gentle stroking felt so lovely that she decided to close her eyes, just for a minute.

“I’m not sleeping Mama, I’m just resting my eyes for a little bit,” she said through a yawn. Before long, Amber was fast asleep, her breathing evened out and her body grew heavy. Her mother looked down at her little face and smirked to herself.

“You tried so hard, little one. You really gave it a good go didn’t you?” she whispered, so as not to wake her peaceful daughter. “But you should always know; when it comes down to it, in the end, I always win,” and she picked up the T.V. remote, turned the box on and flicked over to her favourite daytime T.V. show; Judge Judy.