Friday, August 26, 2011

#FridayFlash - About Last Night

At King’s Cross, and feeling a little giddy, Peter stepped aboard the 0700 destined for Newcastle. Of course, he wouldn’t make it that far; his stop was in Darlington, slightly less than three hours away. He found a seat and sat, his gaze fixed out the window, a smile fixed upon his face. God, what a trip, he thought. Her eyes had been fantastic, and capturing that look at the precise moment of her death, the way her body deflated as her spirit left the earth, had been worth everything—the risks he took in coming down here, in visiting not just one but two of the London night clubs, and then the almost-altercation with the possessive young man who clearly thought the girl would go home with him instead. The stupid git. Thought too much of himself and probably ended up tossing off before the night was through. Thinking about that, Peter couldn’t help but snigger.

The car shuddered, and the train pulled forward. As the platform and station slid past the window, Peter laid his head back. He closed his eyes. Like watching a movie through a camcorder’s viewing screen, he replayed those last moments. How her skin quivered and prickled at his touch. How she groaned with the expectation of something pleasurable, and the liquored taste of her mouth as he gave her one last kiss. How that look of ecstasy surrendered first to confusion and then to panic and fear as the tide of realization set in.

Rewinding the scene, he played through it again. He listened to her words this time (“I don’t usually do this.”) followed by his own (“It’ll be a first for me, too.”) and then the sound of her giggle, mixed with the jingle of keys, as she unlocked the door to her flat. The cool air had tickled his face as he followed her through the living room, walking past the wicker and glass coffee table, past the Calico that fixed him with knowing eyes before it skittered away behind a ratty couch.

In her bedroom, a crocheted afghan covered the bed, and he remembered thinking that her mum had made it for her as kind of a going away present. The little girl had grown into an adult, living by herself now, and would need a little something to remind her of home. As the train snaked into the country, leaving the city behind, Peter smiled as he remembered how he had wrapped her in that blanket before he left. A small gesture of consideration on his part—at least the woman would know that the last thing to touch her daughter’s body had been something crafted by her own hands.

Again and again, he replayed the night, catching a little more of the details each time; and as Darlington slipped into view, he had completely framed everything about last night—the sights, the sounds, and the smells. Even the sharp aroma of voided piss, mixed with jasmine perfume, was clear in his mind.

In his apartment now, he took a moment to greet the dog, give it a scratch behind the ear, before he walked into the living room and sat down at his desk. With a touch and jiggle of the mouse, the monitor winked on. The cursor danced across the screen. A few clicks later, Peter located his manuscript and opened the file.

Typing a few paragraphs of narrative and then a line of dialogue (“I don’t usually do this.”) he quickly found his rhythm. The next three hours vanished like smoke in the wind. The smile never left his face.


  1. Strong sense of place here. But in paragraph four, are you sure you meant "crotched" and not "crocheted?" The scene suddenly changes!

  2. John: I had a boss who once told me that life is full of little pissers. Well... That error was definitely one of them. Thanks for the gentle correction. And stay safe this weekend as the storm is supposed to roll up your way.

  3. Now that is taking his story research to the extreme.

    Nicely written, and very believable.

  4. Excellent story! I guess writers always do need to make sure they're getting all the small details right, right?

  5. Oh wow that's some research he did!

    The character gave me the creeps, even more so when I found out he was using it in his story.

  6. Awesome that you've set your flash in my part of the world! Darlington seems the perfect place for someone like this to live. But thankfully most of us don't do our research the way he does....I hope.

  7. That's a creepy character you have concocted here. Having him use his murderous exploits as a writing prompt was a wicked twist. Any ideas to expand this? Great story!

  8. Must be one of them method authors. It's nice to see this sort of thing written with such a deft hand; not overly graphic but vividly creepy with just right details. To add my 2 cents, I love this metaphor, "...then to panic and fear as the tide of realization set in." but would love it just a speck more if the tide "came" in...or just "rose."

    Excellent story Stephen!

  9. Steve: Research, research, research... A good writer always does he's research. In this case, though, I have to agree with you.

    Eric: The devil is in the details.

    Helen: This may sound bad... but I'm glad he gave you the creeps. That was what I had hoped for.

    Icy: Darlington just seemed like a nice stop along the way, according to the route I found on the internet. I had no idea this was anywhere near your stomping grounds. Anyway, I'll take your word on Darlington being a nice fit for the type of character. Maybe one of these days, I'll have to visit and see why. :-)

    Chuck: There are always ideas to take some of my characters further. This one just popped up on Friday morning. Who knows where I'll see him again. With the setting in England, however, I would really need to do my homework.

    Harry: Your two cents are always welcome. Thanks. And as far as showing some restraint, I try to trust the reader to fill in the nasty parts. I don't know if that's like washing my hands or not, but it helps me sleep at night. ;-)

  10. I like that he smiled the entire time while he wrote, doesn't seem like he had any regrets.

  11. Liminal: Yes, the smile and the lack of regret take the creep factor up another notch. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the feedback.

  12. Hi there Stephen -- Darlington close to where my parents live, so I know the station well. ;) This had just the right trickle of detail to make it feel real as well as involving. Why couldn't he just have a few books on murder and police procedural like the rest of us? ;) Good story. St.