Thursday, March 20, 2014

Friday Flash: A Night Alone

A Night Alone
by Clara Zane

I turned off the light, missing Sandra already. She'd only been gone half a day, and would only be gone this weekend, off to a bachelorette-slash-baby shower in Vegas, but I hated sleeping alone. It wasn't the cuddling and (sometimes) sex, but the actual sleeping next to her. She didn't exactly snore, but she breathed loud. It didn't bother me; on the contrary, that was one of the major things that lulled me to sleep on a nightly basis. Not at first, at bedtime, but those times I woke up in the middle of the night for whatever reason. I hadn't slept alone since before we were married six years ago. So could I do it now? I debated simply forgoing sleep this weekend until exhaustion tore me from consciousness - playing video games, watching bad movies, things like that - but I decided to give it the ol' college try, as my grandfather was keen on saying. That's where I was at eleven that night.

I shouldn't have had any problem drifting off at first, as we often went to bed at different times, but my mind wasn't working properly. Sleep wouldn't come. It was probably a half-hour after lights out that I knew I was in for a long rest of the night. I lay there, wondering if she was still out partying (I trusted her completely, so my only worry was that she was having fun, not cheating on me), when the footsteps thudded out in the hallway. Lightly at first, and then loud enough to get me to sit up and snap on the lamp next to the bed.

"Who's there?" I called out. No answer. Had I drifted off to that light slumber where you don't realize you're actually sleeping? I might have heard the footfalls in some distant dream and attributed them to real life. But when they came again, this time further down the hall, I knew it wasn't my imagination.

I didn't think, simply leaped out of bed and ran into the hallway. It was an intruder; it had to be. If I hit him fast enough, tackled him and pinned him to the ground, this could work out. No way would he expect that. But when I sprinted into the hallway, no one was there. I stopped and listened. Whoever it was couldn't have ducked into any of the rooms - we kept the doors shut, and I hadn't heard any open or close.

"Hello? Listen, if you just fess up and leave, I won't call the cops. I just want you out of my house."

And I meant it. Hell, fear had begun to trickle down the center of my back, and I just wanted this night to be over. If Sandra had been here, I'd have been amped up on adrenaline, my manly instincts ready to protect her. But with her gone, I still had that protection gene thing going, but it wasn't as strong. I took a deep breath and began searching through the house. After fifteen minutes and three trips around our small home, I realized that if anyone had been here, they were gone now. There were no open windows or doors, and in fact they'd all been locked from the inside. I shook my head and headed back to the bedroom.

It wasn't five minutes before the footsteps returned. This time, however, they didn't stop in the hallway, but continued right through the bedroom door. I'm not superstitious, and I don't believe in ghosts, but tell me, when you hear footsteps - and there was no mistaking them for anything else but footsteps - and nothing is there, aren't ghosts the first things that pop into your mind? I wanted to bolt from the room, from the house, but I stayed put. Fear and curiosity wrestled with each other, and though it appeared curiosity won out, what actually happened was that the two battled to a stalemate and I remained frozen in place.

The footsteps moved again, stepping over to the bed, not to my side, but Sandra's. They stopped, and I not only watched an indentation form on her side of the bed, but I felt the mattress dip and heard the bedsprings squeak, as if someone had actually lain down. This time I did jump out of bed, and before I knew it, I found myself in the kitchen, shaking uncontrollably and sweating profusely. I don't remember picking it up, but my cell phone sat in my hand. I activated it from sleep to call Sandra, needing to hear her voice, when I noticed I had a voicemail. It was from Debbie, one of the girls Sandra had gone with. I dialed my number and listened to her message.

"Pete, oh god, I wish you'd pick up your phone, I don't want to tell you this in a message." Her voice was brimming with fear, with sorrow, and I could feel myself go lightheaded. "Sandy got hit by a car. Someone knocked her off of the curb while we were waiting for a red light, and a taxi hit her. She ..." A sob wracked Debbie's voice, but she continued. "She didn't make it. She was gone before the ambulance arrived. Call me as soon as you get this."

And that was it. I didn't cry, not then; I was in shock, too numb for anything. I checked the time of her call (I'd forgotten to take my phone off of silent) and found it was right about when I heard the footsteps for the first time. No. It couldn't be. I walked back towards the bedroom, looked in at the bed, which still had the indentation, and whispered, "Sandra?"

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Friday Flash: The Green-Eyed Monster

The Green-Eyed Monster
by Clara Zane

Ingrid stood on the balcony, surveying the backyard. That hunk of a pool boy had cleaned the pool, and it shone like a blue crystal. She relished the slight cool breeze that cascaded around her, drying the beads of sweat she'd worked up in a vigorous love-making session with Max, who still lay content in bed. As always, it had been a cathartic experience for her, erasing the memory of last night's one-night stand, and for him, wiping the slate clean from a tryst with his mistress.

Both knew the other wasn't faithful, just as they knew they still loved each other completely. As long as they didn't bring up their shared infidelity, that ugly Green-Eyed Monster wouldn't strike. Besides, their unspoken make-up sex, which always took place late the next morning, was too damn hot, and neither wanted to compromise that.

Her gaze shifted from the shimmering pool to her tree-lined rose garden. Maybe she'd stroll through later that afternoon after the sun sunk a bit. For now she'd simply enjoy being on the balcony.

"Ingrid, who's Jeremy?" Max called from the bed. "Was he your lay last night?"

She froze. He was. How would Max know? Why would he ask?

Something moved in the rose garden. Something big, though she couldn't tell what. It staggered through the bushes, coming towards the house. The thorns had to dig into its flesh, but it didn't make a sound, at least as far as she could hear. What the hell was it?


"Why do you ask, Max?" Though she was sure she didn't want to know the answer.

He didn't answer right away, and when he did, she sensed his hesitancy. "That's what you called me. Jeremy. When you were deepest in your throes."

Crap. She'd never done that before. Jeremy had been good, but not the best. And certainly not better than Max, not by a long shot. He certainly hadn't been worth calling out for, so why had she done it? But the damage was done; she heard the hurt in Max's voice.

The thing in the rose garden burst through, and Ingrid's breath froze in her chest. A big, hairy beast, tinted green, sprinted towards the house. Saliva dripped down its oversized jaw onto its chest. It turned its misshapen head up to her, and she gasped at the bright emerald eyes. The thing dashed around the back patio towards the side of the house, where she knew the garage door was unlocked, not to mention a few open windows. Nothing would stop the thing from getting in.

"Ingrid?" Max called. "Talk to me." A tiny dose of anger joined the hurt.

She sighed and walked into the bedroom. They needed to hash this out. She didn't know much about the Green-Eyed Monster, but she did know it would eat them alive. If they didn't get rid of it right away, it would be the death of them.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Friday Flash: The Hot Guy in Line

The Hot Guy in Line
By Clara Zane

The line for Space Coaster shuffled forward again, and Hannah had another clear view of the boy. Yeah, he definitely was a hottie. If only Jess and Zoe were here to check him out. It was always more fun to scope out guys with them. Too bad they both had plans today. She hated coming to Super Fun World without them. Okay, that was an overstatement, since she wouldn't be here if that were the case. Even though she felt a bit silly waiting in line for the awesome rides by herself, the thrills once she got on more than made up for it. Plus she could watch the boys while pretending to look at her phone.

Well, pretending might be a bit of an overstatement, too, as she was on her Twitter and Facebook apps in between texting with Jess and Zoe. They tried to get her to snap a stealthy pic of the hot boy, especially since he was a few line-turns away, but she didn't have the guts. Zoe would have, but Jess would have chickened out, so Hannah didn't feel bad. Besides, he was with a girl. They weren't holding hands or anything, but maybe it was a first date. The way they talked to each other, she could tell they weren't strangers. Oh well, didn't mean she couldn't look.

As the line for Space Coaster moved again, she got a better view. He was wearing a Doctor Who shirt. Oh, goodness, his hotness factor just went up to another level! It was a shirt she'd never seen before, one with a big DW shaped like the TARDIS in the middle, and a bunch of tally marks around it, signifying the Silence, her favorite group of monsters from the series. Now she'd totally have something to talk about with him, instead of simply gazing into those gorgeous eyes.

Which, goodness-goodness-goodness, were looking right at her. She tried to smile, hoped she did, before the line moved again. He smiled at her, of that she had no doubt. Then the girl whispered something in his ear, and he shrugged and blushed. Busted! Hannah giggled, pleased she'd been the reason for it. Guys hardly ever looked at her. Zoe and Jess always got the stares, even at school. That was another plus of being here by herself, she supposed.

She got one more clear view of her mystery hottie before the line took him into the main building of Space Coaster, and she couldn't be sure, but she thought he looked disappointed at moving out of sight. She grinned and typed into Twitter. "Hot guy in line at Space Coaster totally checking me out. #feelingfine" That was too important to only share with Jess and Zoe via text.

The rest of her wait took another twenty minutes, but it might as well have been hours. She tried to focus on the fun of the coming ride, but her mind kept drifting to how she'd probably never again see her mystery boy. There would be other guys to scope out later, there always were here, but there was no way they'd look like him. With a Doctor Who shirt, no less! And there certainly were no boys like him at school. Sure, some liked Doctor Who, and some even looked good, but they didn't have that smile or those eyes. She decided she should push him from her mind, or she might start regretting coming today.

When she finally boarded the ride, her thoughts of the boy vanished as she twisted and dipped through space. Well, the thoughts mostly vanished. She did catch herself wishing she had his hand to hold during the first rise to the top of the track. But the acceleration down the track took full control of her thoughts.

As she walked out of Space Coaster, she planned what to do next. The mine car ride or the log ride would both be fun. A quick stop for a pretzel and soda would also rock. She pulled out her phone to check what Jess and Zoe had texted her while she was zipping through space or if anyone had said anything new on Twitter or Facebook. With all her attention there, she didn't even notice him at first. Only when she felt someone looking over her shoulder did she turn and see it was him. She wanted to chastise him for spying on her personal stuff, but those eyes, that smile, sent that complaint sailing away. Besides, at that moment, it had just been Twitter, so he hadn't seen any big secrets. Good thing she hadn't been texting Jess and Zoe.

"Hey," he said.

"Hey," she said right back.

That heart-stopping smile melted her. "I couldn't help but notice you in line. I hope you don't mind me waiting for you."

Her heart skipped a beat or two. Oh, who was she kidding - it skipped a half-dozen at least! He'd waited for her. "No, that's cool. I noticed you, too."

"That's what my sister said. I didn't think a girl as pretty as you would look twice at me, but she insisted. Then she ditched me, so I had to wait."

The girl was his sister, not a date. And he thought she was pretty. He said it! Hannah had to take a deep breath (discreetly) before she spoke again. "I'm glad you waited."

"Yeah, me, too." She'd never get over that smile. "Since I'm here alone now, would you care to be my date?"

Date. He said date. It took all of her willpower, but she didn't let out an earsplitting squeal. She also didn't dive right into her phone to inform Jess, Zoe, Twitter, and Facebook. Instead, she gave him a smile of her own and took his arm when he offered it. They headed deeper into Super Fun World, ready to have a super fun time of their own.