Ready for another flash fiction challenge?
Now that the move back to Toronto is all well and done, I can relax on one of my two pieces of furniture and do another writing prompt. June kind of came and went, didn’t leave a lot of time for anything but the day job and the move. It’s been taxing, but I don’t know if cross-country moving is ever easy without wealth.
But now I’m ready to get back to business, which means another story with the Trese Brothers to follow No Legacy Between The Stars – but beginning with this new short story.
Anyways, I went hunting for a writing prompt and found this thread on Reddit. The post is there, so click the link if you want the context of the challenge before reading the story. Otherwise, it follows here.
By Brett Caron
Yesterday was the best day of my life.
I’m walking to my desk, and this place smells like shit. Yellow, stinking puddles connect cubicles and trail from glass-walled offices. It’s mostly empty – I’m working early this morning, and on Sundays I’m usually the first one here. But today I’m not.
I wasn’t yesterday, either. I was five hours late, but I wasn’t worried about getting fired. When I decided to walk in, my boss walked right up to me and explained exactly how awesome I am. With a glazed look in her eyes she parroted my praises and sat down in her office to fire off an email insisting that I get a raise, a promotion. That I get what’s coming to me.
Her office door is one of the ones with a piss-trail soaking into the cheap grey carpet, a dark smudge that reeks of too much coffee and an otherwise impeccable diet.
She’s still sitting behind her desk, in the same position where I left her yesterday. Her fingernails are broken and bruised. Some of the letters from her keyboard are scattered across her desk or glisten wetly from the carpet like a cryptic riddle. A line of drool connects her slack mouth to what’s left of her left mouse button and right index finger. She grunts only when I come into the room, and even then it’s in time with the surprised noise I make.
When I lift her arm, still standing there with my hands in my pockets and eyes on her, it jerks up into the air like she’s got the reflexes of an Olympian. She’s a puppet on a string. I let her go again and she slumps down. Dull doll eyes stare at nothing.
She shoots upwards again. Her voice is so chipper it makes my teeth go on edge. And I’m the one who thinks the words.
“I’m fine. No problem! Not me. Definitely not a zombie now or anything!”
She’s nothing again. Elsewhere in these offices, things move. I hear crawling on carpet, fingertips squeaking against glass prisons with doorknobs.
The reason I was five hours late yesterday was: who gives a fuck about a day job when you wake up one Wednesday and you can control other people’s minds?
It was fairly obvious something was off as soon as I left my apartment. But I had no idea at all until I started to get freaked out on the walk to the subway. People I would make eye contact with started getting out of my way. Not like ‘oh, I didn’t realize I was the asshole taking up the left side of the escalator’ get out of the way. Like fucking royalty. Superhuman.
I always knew I deserved this.
It got even better when I started talking to people. The guy at the convenience store smiled a Stepford grin and handed cigarettes and a lighter over while he sang a song that I was thinking about. He didn’t have the voice for it, and the other half dozen people in the store hung back under the dingy fluorescent lighting like they didn’t want to come any closer while I was there.
Until they did want to, didn’t have a choice to want it except mine.
Hell, I only came in at all so I could keep a steady paycheck while I figured out how best to take over the world.
But today I heard a raw throat singing a familiar song inside the closed convenience store. All hoarse croaking that sounded almost bloody. Through the dirty glass I could see a half dozen silhouettes swaying gently in tune.
The phone number for every person I dialed yesterday is ringing to voicemail.
My boss sits in her own shit. Zombies, things, shuffle in their offices. I picture MRI machines and silhouettes and dead neurons. I picture research papers twenty years from now titled Psychological and Physiological Side Effects of Mind Control. I picture butterfly wings touched and never flying again.
I picture three hours before I came into work yesterday, of calling my mum at random and having her say something ridiculously offensive and out-of-character. I picture myself laughing. Saying I love you. Hanging up.
Tear-streaked, crusted eyes stare at the same little patch of wall. Her phone is pressed against her ear in shaking, sweaty hands. Cramped arm muscles are ready to give out. She mouths that she loves me too into the dead phone, over and over.
My life changed yesterday. I was poised on the edge of everything I’ve ever wanted. It’s not like I’ve never thought of what I would do with power like this. Start small. Don’t get greedy. Learn about your abilities before mind-raping a billionaire or a public figure and going high profile. But I fucked it up anyway.
My life changes today, too. It’s ashes in my mouth. A wasteland of blank eyes and human waste.
I always knew I deserved this.