Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge - Human Found Dead


Here we are then.  I haven't actually written anything since...um...NaNoWriMo 2011. It's been a while.  I claim a combination of writer's block and getting on with life...  So, I'm out of practice.  You have my apologies for the roughness of what follows...though, since it's supposed to be hard-boiled, that might actually work in my favour...

Anyway.  Challenge was 1000 words, and after bouncing up and down, I managed 998. I'm actually intrigued enough with this to write a whole short story...first time I'd ever done a hard-boiled anything, and I think I kinda like it...

Anyway, it's a hard-boiled urban fantasy, with (hopefully) a theme of Love Demands Sacrifice, so...lemmie know how I did.


Human Found Dead

I was at Grimm's when he started running his mouth.  Normally I let drunks ramble and ignore them, but tonight I'd come to wash the blood out of my thoughts with whiskey, not listen to his whining.  So, I give him a not-too friendly warning.

“Look, friend,” I said, interrupting him.  “A little free advice:  You've got about five minutes before someone in here decides to take your hide.  I suggest you use it well.”

“They won't kill me.”

I shook my head.  Humans.  They're never willing to believe any of us wear their skin – or used to, rather.  It's been banned, though that don't stop the traditionalists, and the traditionalists drink at Grimm's.

“For your own good, tell your story and scram – before someone kills you to dye their hat.”

“I thought you guys were cracking down on the Red Cap gangs.”

He was actually giving me attitude, after the sob story he'd just been telling anyone who'd listen?  I gave him a look.  This idiot just didn't realize on whose turf he was being an ass.  I could feel the assorted eyes of the other patrons on us, staring from the shadows.  Out in mainstream society or not, the fae don't like humans drinking in their bars.  Especially the annoying humans.

“Fine, fine.”  He turned sullen and swallowed what was left of his drink.  He had a face like the backside of a barn door, grey and unloved.

In spite of myself, I was curious.  This guy was a real, true-blooded human, and you don't get a lot of those in Grimm's.  I figured he probably had an hour tops before he was somebody's dinner, and I wanted to know why he wanted to die so bad he'd risk being human in a fairy bar.  Guess I felt bad for the poor sucker, so I signaled the barman for another round.  Least I could do, if he was going die of Terminal Stupidity.

Besides, maybe it'd take my mind of my own troubles for a time.

“What happened to him?”


“This friend you've been going on about.  What happened to him?”

“I...I dunno.  We grew apart.  I grew up, and...”  He squirmed.  “There was this girl.”

I nodded.  Nothing new there.

“She...well, eventually she left me for a six foot QB who beat her and knocked her up on Prom night.”

“And your friend?”

“I tried to find the way back, but...”  He downed his drink.  “This was before the Boundaries fell, you understand.  I couldn't find it.  We used to do everything together.  Sailed up and down the coast...he was so fierce that even the pirates backed off.  Doesn't matter,” he added bitterly.  “He's coming for me now, and there's nowhere left to run.”

I didn't say anything else.  Didn't ask him how he knew. I just bought us another round of drinks.


She has hair like untouched snow and eyes so dark they go on forever, and at 3 A.M she handed me a cup of coffee to mask the scent of whiskey on my breath.  I'd only slept for an hour tops, and was still in yesterday's clothes.  I was rumpled and smelly, but she was pristine; cool and crisp like fresh linen.  Even here, surrounded by blood and filth, Aderyn smelled like flowers.

“Barman found him.”  She has a voice like a warm fire on a cold night, and is so gentle with me it hurts.  “He said you might know something about it.”

I looked around.  I hate that she sees this shit, but she chose it – gotta help those who can't help themselves – and as she told me in the beginning, I can't take that from her.

The morning paper will have few of the details, none of the gore in a story as flat and flaccid as a rentboy at noon.  They'll leave out the splashes of dark red against brown bricks and the black puddles of lifeblood on asphalt; the smell like raw steak, and the multiple chalk outlines around what was left of that poor bastard.  They'll leave out the rank stench of bile from where the rookie yacked, and the piss-and-filth-and-garbage reek of the dumpster they found him behind.  The damp air and the eye-pounding strobe lights on the marked cars.  They'll tidy it up for their readers with three words:  Human Found Dead...

“He was a human drinking in a fairy bar,” I said.  It should be all the explanation anyone needs.  Not that that would make it better for the human cops, when we called them in.

“What do you make of this, then?”  I looked where she pointed, up at the words scratched with bloody efficiency into the brick.  “'Honah Lee'.  Could be a person.”

“Maybe.”  I filled her in on what I knew; it wasn't a lot.

“He have a name?”

I shook my head.  No names, not in Grimm's.

“Looks like his friend caught up to him, though.”

When they found the head, the mouth was stuffed with strings and wax, and there were two scales, emerald green and glowing, on his eyes.   Pennies for Charon.

I looked up at Aderyn as a nameless tech handed me a wallet.

“Jean Papier,” I told her, reading the name off the license, and had to hide the hitch in my breath.

Aderyn had taken the Change so she could walk upright like the rest of us, given up her life in the forests to wade hip deep into the scum of the Earth and make things a little brighter.  I'd marry her if she'd have me, but unicorns don't really go for elfin types.  Especially elfin cops with drinking problems.

She reached out, but not to pull me out of my personal darkness.

I handed her the wallet.

NB: I've fixed a few awkward phrases/grammar errors since putting this up and linking it to terribleminds.  Infinite do-overs and take-backs, yeah?  Well, I'm usin' 'em. :)


Athena said...

Duuuuuude. Absolutely bloody brilliant!

Rhiannon said...

Thanks, Bean :)

Rhiannon said...

PS: I did try to say 'thanks' on terribleminds as well, but it didn't post the comment...again. Silly website...

ErraticPerfectionist said...

I LOVE this story!! I'd love to read more, if you ever have the creative time to add to it! :D