Flash Fiction — Another Quiet Night

Cormac’s FFF is on again. The first line is given on Friday, then we have our attempt done by Tuesday morning. If you haven’t tried it, get in on the next one — it keeps you going. And even if you don’t check out some of the other folks; real fine writers over there. Anyway, below is my attempt.

“He had to kick out the back window to escape.”

It was quite effortless really. Well, except for the weird angle he had to contort his body into that actually gave his Wolverine work boots enough power to shatter the glass. And, of course, the 4 gauge wire wrapped around his wrists about 20 times that made blood soak into his t-shirt and jeans that caused him to slide around on the old dresser instead of giving him any leverage to give a solid whack. And the duct tape over his mouth that made him heave through his nostrils. But beyond that, piece of cake.

He lay on his left side, grabbed hold of the ornamental wood trim on the top of the armoire for a little leverage, and kicked with his right foot. Sweating profusely, he gave the window three solid jabs and he felt the rush of winter air rush over his cheeks.

He spun around on his stomach and looked out. The window was only about 2×2 which hardly gave him any chance to inchworm his way through, though he hoped that he would be able to make enough commotion for someone to see him there, bruised and bloody, with duct tape covering his mouth. It had been a long day.

The city street was desolate. The brick apartment across the street sulked in the gloom.  Save for the flickering streetlight and a few closed windows with televisions blue glow bouncing off the glass, there was nothing but silence. A light snow dusted the sidewalk.

The man felt some hot tears run down his cheeks. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Not like this.

When he heard a garbage can being rummaged through his heart leapt. He was almost giddy at the irony that a bum would be his savior. Or maybe it was an old woman in her robe throwing out her trash, or some kid doing chores. Whoever it was, it didn’t matter to him. He wriggled his body as close as he could to the window to peer out, being careful of the jagged glass still jutting out of the frame like outstretched fingers ready to snag him.

He grunted as loud as he could. He tried to thrash and banged his feet against the antique top slick with drying blood and he listened. The sound in the can stopped. He giggled with the prospect of freedom. He made promises that he would never keep.

His eyes peered down the street where the noise came from and he started to thrash again. His wrists burned anew; he felt the blood seep from them as the wire seemed to tighten slightly, but he didn’t care. He thought about simple things: sunshine, showers, blueberry muffins and coffee.

Even as his muffled voice groaned into the quiet night, he planned his revenge. He imagined all forms of torture. He’d read books on the Spanish Inquisition, he’d Google torture devices; he planned the slowest, most horrifying death for his captor. He didn’t mind the baseness of the whole idea. After all, he thought, what are we, really, when it came down to it but animals? And some of us, he reasoned, merely pretend we’re not. He smiled, pulling the tape taught against his lips making him wince slightly. We are the most vicious creatures of them all and his captor was going to see just how vicious the middle aged man could be.

Craning his neck as far as he dared, his nose just outside the glass, his eyes strained down the street.

And he felt it: the massive jaw clamping down on his temple. And he smelled it: the breath-stink filling his nose. And he heard it: the guttural growling deep from its belly. And then it registered:  a stray dog had his head in a vice, canines embedded in his temples and lower jaw, and it was trying to pull him out of the window.

The man screamed. He screamed some more. He wrestled and whipped his head, and his legs danced wild, and he ripped his wrists clean down to the bone.

When the glass pierced his throat, a puddle soaked his jeans and his body fell limp. For a few moments the dog held on. When it let go, it licked its chops and sniffed the man’s bald and battered head. It looked down the street one way, then the next, and took off at a trot down the sidewalk and around the corner.

The night was voiceless again, hushed in shadow, a dust of snow, and a flickering streetlight.

By Chad Rohrbacher

11 comments on “Flash Fiction — Another Quiet Night

  1. Chad, this was a great story. The first paragraph set the scene for a Herculean effort on the part of the poor victim (?), the middle had me cheering him on and the finale made me laugh. Then I thought…damn, I wanna read that again.

    So I did!

  2. I thought it was going to be a little stray kitty, and his hopes would simply be dashed… but no, it was a murderous Cujo who severed his jugular!


  3. Freaking awesome piece Chad! I, like Paul was rooting for him and to find that freedom wasn’t meant to be… well hell! Don’t life just suck?

    Great great piece. Fantastic use of our prompt sentence and I look forward to see what you do next week.

  4. Chad, sorry for my lateness. I’ve not even got a letter from my mum. 🙂

    A great, great piece. Your writing seems to get better with each story I read. Top work my friend.

    I’ve put a link on my blog to yours, mate.

  5. A thousand years ago, in a creative writing class taught by (ironically) a creative writing technician, I wrote a similar short story. The critique- death was, as always, certain, but in this case too certain. Still, I enjoyed the reading.

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