I scanned the thirty people spread out over ten pews, nodding to familiar faces and smiling at new ones."Okay, we need a marketer," I said. "There's no use spending hours on our bazaar if no one comes.""What's the theme?" asked Mr. Glen."Take a chance. We want people to know we're different than before. We want them to give our bazaar and church a new chance."Small groups erupted into whispers. A few grunts and guffaws broke free. Head nods and shakes made the whole scene seem like a bobblehead convention.A single wrinkled hand rose high in the air. "Yes, Mrs. Taylor?""I'll do it," she said. "I'll do the marketing."Mrs. Taylor was not what anyone would call dynamic. She sat in back corners and seemed to limit herself to three sentence conversations. "Mrs. Taylor, we need someone who can use social media."She nodded. "Certainly. I can do that.""And you'll need to create vibrant posters.""I will.""And you'll need to reach out to the whole city."Mrs. Taylor nodded. "I understand, young man. You won't be disappointed. I promise you. Now, how about we follow the theme and you taken a chance on me."I hesitated, hopeful that someone else would volunteer. All eyes were focused on me, waiting for my answer. With a sigh and a forced smile, I nodded."Okay, Mrs. Taylor. It's all yours."For three weeks, I tried to get hints about what she was doing. No luck. She'd change topics, hide sheets, and either ignore my knocks on her door or tell me to go away.Then I saw her first post. SPECIAL PRODUCTION AT ST. BART'S. SEPT 23rd.Special production? The Bazaar? It must have been a teaser. The church facebook account, the city event calendar, the handout going to all the local schools...everything had the same cryptic messages.Then the poetry started.Come see the church lotFor cookies and cakeTo see what we makeand what can be boughtIt certainly wasn't Robert Frost. And the more of them I saw the more nervous I became. The Sunday before the bazaar I finally had to say something."Mrs. Taylor I'm not sure your marketing is working."She smiled. "Have faith, dear. The message is getting out. Have faith."The next Saturday, I arrived early to help set up the yard. The stage in the centre surprised me."What's that for?"Mr. Glen smiled. "You'll see. Agnes said not to tell you."Agnes-Mrs. Taylor-had another surprise? I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. That's when Mrs. Taylor walked our in a flair white body suit covered in fringe."Mrs. Taylor, that's quite the outfit."She smiled. "Oh, it's all the rage. Everyone is wearing it." She nodded back to the church doors where fifteen other seniors with matching outfits were exiting. That's when the people started showing up too. Some in cars. Some by foot. We had more people at 9:00 am than we usually had all day."You didn't figure it out, did you?" said Mrs. Taylor."Figure out what?""The poems. My little gang. The way we're dressed?"I shook my head. "The poems?""The rhyming scheme, dear."The seniors lined the stage, turned on the speakers nearby and started their music. I knew the song in an instant. The choreography was perfect and the crowd were already swaying."We've quite a following," said Mrs. Taylor. "They're still popular, you know."I smiled. "You are awesome, Mrs. Taylor." I laughed at chorus of voices putting everyone in a good mood. Mrs. Taylor was good. I hadn't noticed the rhyming scheme at all. A-B-B-A. I laughed. The poem was just like Mrs. Taylor--hiding something special inside.[Note: I didn't proof, or count words. This is just on the fly]
Her lips part, soft and beckoning.“Take a chance on me.”Her call surrounds you and lifts you from a deep sleep. You open your eyes. It's late. The full moon drenches your room in blue light. Within it, you watch yourself dress, a detached observer. You walk out your door, down the staircase and across the empty lobby to the heavy wood doors.“Take a chance on me.” Yes, I am coming.You head east from the hotel entrance. Your feet know where to go; they've taken you there every day since your arrival in Cairo. You cross the city quickly and wonder if you are floating, cradled in her call. You arrive at the ancient temple and take a lit torch from the entryway. The temperature cools as you descend down the main passage. You walk for half a mile, perhaps more, past anterooms and side corridors uncovered in the excavations. None contain what you seek. None contain her.You go farther than you've been before and stop. A pit lies before you, swallowing the passageway for twenty feet. You pick up a loose stone, toss it in, and wait. Nothing. Not simply a pit then, but an uncrossable fathom.“Take a chance.” You nod and retreat down the corridor, turn and take off. Your torch blazes beside you in your tightened fist. You pick up momentum and spring from the ledge. You are weightless for mere seconds, but also for an eternity, as you fly across the void beneath you. Once you land, your head clears and you wonder at what you've just done. You could have died. You could have...“Take a chance.” Yes, I will. I am. You continue down the corridor. Your feet follow your mind, or your mind follows your feet. You're not sure which.Finally, the passage opens into a grand room that dances with multi-colored lights. You aren't familiar with this place. It's not on the schematics you've drawn of the buried temple. The room sits empty, save one statue in the middle. It is her. She sits on a cracked throne, her stone face at once beautiful and terrifying. Her right arm is raised, her palm flat and facing up. In it rests the source of light that shimmers throughout the chamber: a diamond. “Take.” You approach her. The gem is large, easily the size of a human heart. Such a treasure. Such a wonder!“Take.”No, I can't. I shouldn't. It's not a treasure for one person alone, but its beauty is her beauty. Her voice is its voice. They speak as one, and they called you. You! “Take,” she commands.Yes. Yes. Take it. You reach out and caress her fingers as you close your hand around the diamond. You lift it from her palm, and the air screams around you. Your mind releases a final, desperate thought. But I took a chance!The torch clatters to the ground with no hand left to hold it.Twitter: @DMDomosea
Reminded me of H. Rider Haggard. Nice :)
The wind cuts, making the exposed skin on my face ache. I trudge to the road through the falling snow lamenting my warm wool scarf, forgotten on the peg by the window in my tiny room, my old room, I correct myself. There is no going back for it now. The door of my family’s cottage is shut and will remain shut to me for tonight and all the rest. But with the storm coming, my meager sack of goods, and nowhere to spend the night there may not be many more. I shrug off the disparaging thought and clasp my hood tight to my numbing cheeks. A stagecoach gleams on the road ahead, the lantern glows yellow illuminating a dark haired driver who sits erect, impervious to the cold driving snow. He wears a handsome smile like some men wear jaunty hats, and he is looking at me. “No charge tonight.”I knew I would be prey to strange men while I traveled alone, but already? I must look more naive than I realized. “No thank you-” I almost called him sir on reflex, but stopped myself. He did not deserve such respect while harboring such dark intentions. “I am only on my way to our neighbor’s to check on their family and then it is back to the hearth with me.”I point to the yellow window a quarter mile off, flickering through the trees. “Oh mistress we both know that is a lie. My lovely, come inside where it is warm. Take a chance on me. For I am but a lonely driver, extending his kindness on a cold night.”His horses, giant black beasts, snort hell steam at me as I trudge past them. I look at the snow, rapidly turning the gray mud white, and grip the kitchen knife hard under my cloak. I feel his leather paw on my shoulder sooner than I realized. He is quicker than I thought, but unsuspecting.The knife flashes yellow under the lantern’s light, propelled by taut muscles, before I realize what I have done, the blade is at his throat. Another knife, his knife, is pressing through my coat and shift, a fraction of an inch from the second small life hidden beneath the folds. And there is blood, not my own but his, melting the snow, painting his white neck red and his dark clothes black.I stand in there, in the snow, surprised how something so terrible can still sparkle like a ruby. It has no right to entrance me so. I turn away and look at the coach, at the horses, their eyes rolling toward me, asking me all kinds of unanswerable questions. I am a farm girl and no stranger to horses, or wagons, how hard could it be? I wipe my knife and climb into the driver’s box. By morning my tracks will be invisible. Two towns over no one knows my face. And coachmen, they make a decent living indeed. Hoping this is not to graphic. But I thought it would be ok for pg13. Also hoping it isn't too late :/ Christine Calhoun @CAnneCalhoun
Woops. Just saw the deadline was noon. Silly human!
Great job :) I like the contrast in the neck and clothes when the blood flows.
Hi! Was wondering if you are planning to post results, thoughts, or feedback on the flash fiction contest? Thanks!
And the crickets chirp.
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