Saturday, May 3, 2014

Flash Fiction

I know I said I wasn't going to make any exceptions to the "Sunday-Monday-Wednesday-Friday" rule, but I forgot about the flash fiction contest!

Thanks to the blog  The Ink Loft (where you can read the rules), I'm participating in a Flash Fiction challenge!

Here's mine!  It's a little less than 1000 words.  My prompt, thanks to the wonderful Olivia Flewelling, is "The elevator in your apartment shuts down on the way to the fourth floor, with you and five other people in it. Write this scene and the dialogue between characters."

 When Mr. Abernathy banged on the elevator door in frustration, we all knew that something was wrong.
“Why isn't the elevator moving?” I asked.
A little kid holding his mother's hand started jumping, evidently hoping to start moving again.
“Don't do that!” His mother swooped him off his feet and almost knocked over another patron, a teenage girl with pink hair and earbuds. “Watch it!” she said way too loudly. “And how long is this elevator going to take?”
I yanked her earbuds out. “We've stopped moving!”
Her eyes went wide. “We've stopped moving?”
“I need to get to the library. It closes at six.” Somebody cranky—I determined that it was an hunched old man—was tapping his foot in an annoying pattern. “Anybody got any bright ideas on how to fix this here dang contraption?”
“Library? I need to get my groceries, and the store closes in five minutes! I have people coming over for dinner!” The lady with the little boy started freaking out. “What am I going to do?”
“Order takeout,” suggested the girl.
“It's for my in-laws!”
“Don't lawyers like Chinese food?”
“Ugh!” The lady set her son down and looked at her watch.
“If I don't get to work my boss is going to fire me!” the girl with pink hair said.
“Grocery? Work? I'm going in for a job interview!” Mr. Abernathy roared.
I shrunk against the back corner, not wanting to tell them that I was in the elevator only because I liked riding elevators.
“Maybe we should use the telephone?” I suggested. “And call the people?”
Everyone looked at me, as if I'd just appeared out of nowhere. “That's a good idea,” said the lady. “It'll be no problem for them to fix this.”
Her son jumped again, and she scooped him up, bumping into the girl with pink hair again. “Watch it!”
“I'm sorry.” The woman didn't sound very sorry.
“I'll call.” Mr. Abernathy reached over and punched a few buttons. There was the sound of static, and then a voice said, “Sorry, we're working on your elevator, but whatever you do don't move. Your cable is hanging by a string, and if the little boy jumps one more time, you're toast.”
“You're pulling our legs,” the old man said, but just then the elevator gave a shudder. It knocked us all to the ground. “How come you didn't get this checked out sooner?” My voice sounded weak, even to me.
“Nobody noticed,” the voice confessed. “We're very sorry.”
Nobody noticed that the elevator was hanging by a string?
“If we die, you'll have my wife to speak to,” the old man said from his perch on the ground. “And I really wanted to read The Help. It was on my bucket list before I died.”
“I know. I know. But folks, please keep calm. We'll be right over to fix it.” Another burst of static, and the telephone operator was gone.
The elevator shook, and both the lady and the pink-haired girl screamed. I would have screamed, only I was too scared to move my mouth.
The lady's son started to cry.
“Can I have everyone's name? That way, I can tell God who I died with.” Mr. Abernathy sounded resigned to his fate.
“I'm Elizabeth,” the pink-haired girl said. “Fourth floor. I live with my brother, who's a juvenile delinquent. I work at McDonalds.”
“I knew it! I've seen you there sometimes!” the woman exclaimed. “You have terrible customer service.”
“Yup, we do that on purpose so it's not too busy.” Elizabeth didn't sound the least bit offended.
“I'm Arnold Abernathy. I'm a professional Elvis impersonator,” Mr. Abernathy said. “It's been hard luck, so I applied for a job at Elizabeth's McDonalds.”
“So if we'd made it in time, you would have been a co-employee.” Elizabeth sounded like she was considering this. “Well, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad to have an Elvis impersonator on the crew. It might come in handy.”
“I'm Elvin Mervin.” The old man still sounded cranky. “I'm a blogger.”
What?” I asked.
“I read and review books for a living.” He shrugged.
“Wait—are you the E.M. Booksy dude? The one with a thousand Google followers?” the woman asked. “I can't believe it! I love your reviews! You're so funny!”
“Thanks.” Elvin Mervin cleared his throat. “I was going to review The Help, but I can't, since we're going to die.” I wished I could combat his statement, but the elevator gave a massive shudder.
“I'm Kirana Kernes,” the woman said. “This is my son, Bryant.” I looked up, and Bryant waved at all of us. “I'm a stay-at-home mom. I just do regular stuff. Like soccer practice, baseball practice, grocery shopping, cooking for the in-laws.” She shrugged. “That sort of thing.”
“You cook for lawyers?” Elizabeth asked.
“In-laws are your spouse's parents. They were coming for dinner.” Mrs. Kernes looked sad that she wasn't going to see them.
“That's so hard to say. In-laws. Why don't you just say your husband's parents?” Elizabeth looked up at the ceiling. “Why?”
“I'm Jetta,” I said.
Everyone looked at me. I swallowed hard. “I really like elevators.”
“Well,” Mr. Abernathy said, “that's a noble aspiration. I really like Elvis.”
“I really like books,” said Mr. Mervin.
“I like shopping,” Mrs. Kernes said. “And Bryant likes Star Wars.”
Bryant mimicked lightsaber noises.
“And I like Green Day,” Elizabeth said cheerfully. “Speaking of which, I'd like to listen to them as I die.”
Just as she put her earbuds in, the elevator lurched again, and Mrs. Kernes screamed.
Bryant started to cry.
Mr. Abernathy turned on the telephone. “Hello? What's going on?”
With a screech, the elevator jolted down.
Are we going to die?
Then the doors opened and a crowd of people in the lobby started cheering.

The last thing I heard before stepping out of the elevator was Elizabeth saying, “Do you think I still have to go to work?”

Hope you enjoyed!  



  1. This is awesome! You have a strong comedic flair and did a great job at creating characters in such a short space of time. I really liked how you picked diverse people and then chose ways where they connected or clashed.
    I do have some suggestions...which you may take or leave at your leisure. :)
    -Sometimes, I wasn't clear who was speaking. This was usually because someone spoke in the middle of a paragraph where several people were involved, or in the case of "His mother swooped him off his feet and almost knocked over another patron, a teenage girl with pink hair and earbuds. “Watch it!” she said way too loudly." Is this the mother or girl talking?
    -"Perch" seemed like a word to describe someone up high, rather than huddled on the ground.
    -Did Bryant start crying twice? This is entirely possible with a child (haha) but the wording made it seem like a new development each time.
    -Finally, it seemed strange that Elizabeth didn't know what 'in-laws' were...unless English was her second language. I felt like I was missing something about her persona...and not connecting the dots of her ignorance about it. paint such colourful characters! I really liked how you revealed more and more about them as the sketch progressed. You made them more than angry or made them interesting!
    I felt it was a masterful move on your part, to keep Jetta a 'background' figure. Her admission to riding elevators for fun made me laugh out loud, and was such an ironic touch.
    And last of all, great ending sentence! It left the reader really knowing your style, and the tone of the whole piece.
    Thanks for letting us all read this!

    1. Thank you so much for your insight onto my flash fiction! I definitely know what to look out for in my writing now :-)

  2. Sorry I've taken so long to get back to you on this, Rcubed! I agree with Olivia on many of her points. Your comedic sensibilities are awesome, and I was very curious about the various characters! Favorite sentence in the whole thing: I shrunk against the back corner, not wanting to tell them that I was in the elevator only because I liked riding elevators. I LOVED that!

    As Olivia said, it was a tad difficult to tell who was speaking at times. That's not a difficult thing to fix, though. I thought it was kind of weird when Jetta yanked Elizabeth's earbuds out. It seemed abrupt and unnecessarily rude.

    “I'm sorry.” The woman didn't sound very sorry. This made me laugh. “Yup, we do that on purpose so it's not too busy.” Elizabeth didn't sound the least bit offended. I liked this detail: it felt believable, as horrifying as it is to say that. You did a great job of adding in those slightly odd details to make the scene and characters feel real: Mr. Abernathy applying for a job at McDonalds, Bryant liking Star Wars, those kinds of things. So, good job with that!

    I did have a little trouble believing that the elevator would be in such bad shape, though.

    Good job, Rcubed! I'm glad I got the chance to see your creativity at play! Thanks for participating!

    1. No problem! Thank you for orchestrating it!