Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: Mary Alice goes to Hell

Another Chuck Wendig challenge; the rules are here. I'd written this story to see if I could do something small in the world of my urban fantasy, without it having all that annoying stuff I see in some short story collections that contain those. I had to cut it considerably to fit it in the space. It would be neat to put this aside and then try editing it "straight", and see how it comes out. I had not realized my vampires were so racist.

Mary Alice went out to give Sephora a hug. “Thank god you’re here. Avril is the dumbest thing ever.”

“I know, honey,” said Sephora. Without a mirror she freshened her black eyeliner and cranberry lip gloss. Sephora would have flown commercial from Iceland now that Candelmas was past. She dragged a huge trunk behind her through PATH, Toronto's 10 KM of underground walkway and mall.

“I can’t believe she’s going to be second,” Unlike the other vampires, Mary Alice was small and had a tiny voice to go with her pixie-sized body. “If Goatboy goes down, we'd have to report to her.”

“How can we get rid of her?” Sephora batted those lush lashes. She was tall and unbelievably thin, with long, glossy hair in a messy pile on top of her head.

But like a monkey, Avril moved fast. “Welcome back,” she said as she bounced into their space as if this was her place, not theirs, and her right to welcome anyone back. "We're all on our way out. I've been summoned to Hell."

A cockroach walked by. Mary Alice flicked it away.

Avril caught it and popped it in her mouth absent-mindedly.

None of them ever went to Hell except Goatboy. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to go; they thought maybe they couldn’t make it.

The therians moved as a pack through the fountains and wheelchair ramps of the mall, and then outside. The hellhole was near the junction of two highways, under the crossing of two rail lines beside a river, as desolate as those things can be in a city.

The moon was a fingernail clipping, a scrap of feather falling towards the west. No therian would change tonight without choosing deliberately.

“This is ridiculous,” Sephora said when they got to the Hellhole. “Why did we come?”

“No clue,” said Mary Alice. “Maybe she’ll get stuck up to her knees in the snow.”

But Avril gave Goatboy a peck on the cheek, took the step forward, and let gravity take her away.

She did not stop knee-deep in a groundhog hole. She was gone.

“Well, that was that,” said Sephora. "We’re free of her for a while.”

“I hope so,” said Mary Alice.

“Shall we go, then?” Sephora said. "I don’t understand why we came in the first place.”

“Yeah,” said Mary Alice. And that was that.

But Avril was back in the food court the next night.

Mary Alice took her normal spot on the floor in a corner. Sephora waltzed in grandly, but then crouched beside Mary Alice.

“The second should be one of us, a vampire, not part monkey.” Mary Alice said.

“Maybe she’ll grow into the role,” Sephora said. “Hell’s not that big a deal, really.”

“Have you been?” Mary Alice said.

“Not since I bubbled up,” said Sephora. It was how they said they were no longer useful for Hell's eugenics programs.

“Why would they summon her?” Mary Alice said.

“They need someone to report on Goatboy,” said Sephora.

“Why Avril?” Mary Alice said. “You could do it.”

“I was in Iceland,” said Sephora. “I don’t know what’s been going on.”

“No one asked me,” said Mary Alice. “I know what’s been going on. Nothing.”

“I can’t take your information to Hell,” Sephora said. “That would be hearsay.”

“I could go,” Mary Alice said.

Sephora snorted. “Good luck with that.” She walked away, and sat down with Goatboy and Avril.

No one noticed as Mary Alice stood up and pulled her sweater around her, and wandered out of PATH.

The humiliation she’d been hoping to see when Avril went, it would probably happen for her. Mary Alice didn’t need anyone to see that. But after 5000 years, she had to know.

It was before midnight when she got to the hellhole. She held her sweater above her as she stepped and then let it fall over the hole as she dropped.

There was dark, and wind for so long. Then she hit. The pain was worse sunburn, worse than not feeding for a month or a bath in holy water.

“Arrival,” she heard.

“Weren’t expecting anyone.”



“Can’t leave it here.”

“Send it back."

Anything else they said was drowned out by a wind.

She smelled rather than felt the return to Earth. She hit her sweater, launched into the air above it, and fell.

There was no daylight yet, just bruises on bruises.

After a while she heard Sephora’s voice. “I know this sweater.”

Strong arms lifted Mary Alice, sweater and all, and carried her away. There was the odd jostle of being carried by someone on seven-inch heels, the sounds of riding on a bus, then yelling for someone to open the door.

Mary Alice could smell corn chips. The hard surface she was set down on must be a food court table. Sephora began to unwrap her. “Oh, honey, what have you done?”

“That bad?” Mary Alice said.

“Your hair, when is the last time you combed it?” said Sephora. “Have you been sweating?”

“I’ve been to Hell,” Mary Alice said.

“But why?” said Sephora.

“I didn't want to be left behind."

Avril was standing behind Sephora suddenly. “Does she need anything? Blood, nachos?”

“Shut up, Avril,” Sephora said. "How was it?”

“They sent me right back,” Mary Alice said.

“That’s the way Hell works,” said Avril.

People were always telling her things she already knew, but this was too much. “Shut up, Avril,” said Mary Alice. She got up to go to her spot in the corner on the floor.

"Hey Mary Alice, if you can get to Hell, you can be my second," said Goatboy.

"Shut up, Goatboy," said Mary Alice.

"I'm serious," said Goatboy.

"I went to Hell," said Avril.

"You're a therian," said Goatboy. "The job needs a vampire."

"I'm a vamp," said Sephora.

"You didn't go to Hell," said Goatboy.

"I can," said Sephora.

"Too late, the position is filled." Goatboy said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting and unusual. I would love to read the long version!