Monday, April 20, 2009

4/20/2009 Flash Fiction - "All's Well that Ends Well"

Over at the Absolute Write forums, there's a weekly challenge to write a piece of Flash Fiction (as I understand it, less than 1,000 words) based off a prompt that's posted at 6:00pm PST every Sunday. The idea is that once you see the prompt, you have 90 minutes to plan, write, and edit the piece. I like the concept of this challenge, as it gets my mind thinking and my fingers typing.

This week's prompt was "All's well that ends well." My story is below. I'll probably try to do this often, although I doubt it'll happen every week.

All's Well that Ends Well

The TV winked out as the pitcher wound up for the 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 7. "No!" Carl screamed as he lunged out of his chair. The Cubs were one pitch from winning their first World Series in 101 long years. He'd waited his entire life, and now the TV died, just as it was about to happen.

Carl hit the television several times, checked the power and cables, but nothing turned it back on. The ceiling light was still on, so the electricity wasn't out. Running to the den, he threw himself into his computer chair and hit the power button on the PC.

"Come on, come on," he muttered as the computer booted into Windows. Once it was ready, he pulled up the Cubs website, only to see the score tied at three. The Royals had tied the game on a solo home run, and had men on second and third, two outs.

Carl couldn't actually watch the game, but the website tracked it well enough that he could follow what was happening. Until the PC turned off. He gaped at the screen for a moment, then punched the power button. Nothing.

Did a breaker blow? Carl looked around, noticed that the light was on. He was sure that he hadn't flicked its switch. And the glow coming from it denied the possibility of a blown breaker.

What was going on? Carl walked through the house. The lights in the bedrooms were on, as was the kitchen's. Every light was lit, but the rest of the electrical components were dead. Clocks, stereo, land-line wireless phone, DVD player...all dead. He walked to the living room, picked up his cell phone from the coffee table, and saw with relief that it was on. Flipping it open, however, revealed no signal, despite the fact that it never had problems at home. Just about everywhere else in the god-forsaken town where he lived, yes, but not home.

Carl rubbed the back of his neck, working on a knot of tension. Something weird was happening, but more importantly, he had no way of knowing if the game was over. He wandered through the rooms, then out the front door. Lights shone from every window in the neighborhood.

He strode to the Stewart's home. Vic was a baseball fan; he probably had the game on. Carl pounded on the front door, but received no response. "Come on!" he yelled. "I know you're in there, Vic. I can see the lights."

Leaning on the doorbell with one hand, he continued to slam his fist against the door. But after a minute or two, gave up. He ran to the next house, pounded on their door. Again, no response.

Walking slowly back home, Carl sighed. He didn't like this electricity business, or his neighbors ignoring him, but those problems could wait. The game, he had to know what happened in the game. Lost in thought, he looked down, and would have fallen on the ground if it were there to catch him. Instead, he saw nothing but the serene blue of a summer sky.

Whipping his head around, Carl tried to figure out where he was. Blue surrounded him on all sides, as far as he could see. Still walking--he could feel the movement in the air--he didn't see to be going anywhere. Of course, with no reference point, how could he tell?

He slowed to a stop, sat down. He couldn't see what he sat on, couldn't even feel it. But his body told him he was sitting, so he chose to believe it. After waiting a few moments, the blue changed, began to darken, until it became the deepest, darkest night.

Wonder if the Cubs are still playing, he thought. For no reason he could determine, he stood up and started walking. First one direction, then another. It was pitch black, yet he could still see his body. No lights anywhere, but somehow, he could see.

After awhile--minutes, hours, days, he had no way of knowing--Carl grew bored and lay down, closed his eyes. He lay there unmoving for what felt like hours, but was probably closer to a few minutes, when a voice boomed out, "Carl Trudeau, you have been judged, and found wanting."

Leaping up, Carl opened his eyes and saw nothing but the eternal darkness. "Who are you?"

"I am Judge. I have found you guilty. Your punishment is upon you."

"Guilty? Of what?"

"Of being a shallow, lonely man with no interests beyond the fate of a few grown men playing a child's game."

"It's baseball! How could I not love it?" His voice echoed in the dark, bouncing on unseen walls and magnifying in volume as he waited for a response.

"You abandoned Melissa for love of the game. For your arrogance and callousness, you are imprisoned for eternity."

Melissa. It came back to her, like everything else. The bitch. "I told her from day one how much I loved baseball. It's not my fault she didn't believe me."

"You put a game before your wife. You have earned your sentence."

Angry tears caused Carl's vision to blur. Odd that perfect darkness blurs, he thought. "Will you at least tell me what happened in Game 7?"

The voice hesitated, then whispered. Carl strained to listen, but couldn't make out what it said. Another voice whispered, but he had no better luck with it. Finally, Judge spoke again. "I have been ordered to give you this much, at least. The Cubs won in the 10th inning."

Carl jumped, adrenaline pumping through his body. "Yes!" he shouted, and danced through the darkness.

"Do not be joyful, mortal. You are still imprisoned for eternity."

"The Cubbies won," Carl replied. "My life is complete. What they say is true. All's well that ends well." With a contented sigh, he strode away, into the darkness.

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