I wrote a piece of flash fiction years ago. Last week I joined a writer’s workshop to start to really try and hone my skills and get these stories rolling. This piece of flash was the first thing I posted for review and help to expound. I got some great reviews with very helpful directions to steer myself. I set to work. I was going to wait until completely done but I promised a few people mid-week I’d have it done. As is everything in my life, I’m behind. But anywho — I’m going to post Part 1 – Ray’s Home and half of part 2 Ray’s Mother. Please feel free to leave any comments or critique if you wish. Keep in mind this is the first draft and I took a 411 word piece and have been building on it slowly. Here goes:
By Jamie Mayes – March 2014
PART I – Ray’s Home
The cool, stale air of enclosed space swished past Ray while he cautiously moved down the familiar corridor. Tile clacked loudly and echoed off walls. He kept forgetting to pick his knees up high to keep from stomping boot heels causing the electric atmosphere more tension. Time thickened, slowed, and took away all sight in the common sense replacing the straight, peach-colored walls with cock-eyed ones leaning forever sideways trying to escape into another dimension. Pictures no longer hung at perfect perpendiculars against the line of the floor but stretched; contorting themselves into macabre pieces that would be titled something like “Hillside Sunset for the Serial Killer”.
Ray knew he meant to be going somewhere. There was a purpose to his movements but one that no longer registered because he kept concentrating on minimizing the distractions that were contained in this hallway. Ahead was a right turn. He could hear the slow, labored shuffling and hushed coos of a motherly nature on the other side of that turn. The building and its halls are Ray’s mistress. He has wondered their comforting labyrinth for years and lived within the belly of the beauty for the better part of a decade but tonight the façade has cracked. The attraction falters and he dares not even guess what is coming at him around the razor sharp edge of that right turn. The rhythm of his heart quit working at a pace set to sustain life and took on one that exudes the knowledge of impending doom. His breath quickens and he can taste the tuna sandwich from lunch that was hours ago, running his tongue across his drying lips he steadies himself with two more strides before he faces the unknown. He stands at the cusp, frozen for mere seconds when all emotion drains from him and he is left standing naked. His eyes are blank and the air escapes in quick huffs from his nostrils but the young woman who rounds the corner does not notice the statue Ray. While he attempts to compose himself in what is becoming a short trip into hell with a long stay reserved in his name she moves ever closer. Brushing past, the scent of patchouli and pot filter into his nose when he notices the rats she guides on leashes and cockroaches nesting on her shoulders. He doesn’t know why or how he knows but Gether is her name and this is her ritual. They are a twisted group that calls themselves family and take a walk every night to calm before sleep. She disappears briskly from his existence as the fleeting memory of this moment repeating itself over and over invades his senses then dissipates into nothingness, his brain forgetting immediately again everything but what was next in the hallway as he took the right turn. Ray could not recall why his heart wanted to beat outside of him so desperately or exactly how the hall seemed bigger and smaller all at the same time. He kept moving hoping that it would provide answers when the doors of the building began to announce their presence, beating their devil drums and rattling door handles. He had not noticed them before but now they pulse with life and beg for his attention. They all wish to be opened and explored but Ray knows better on that much at least. His body has not betrayed him so far that the stench of his own fear does not escape him or his personal bubble. It circles him, a snake winding itself among the branches of a tree waiting to strike but with nothing there to attack. The pressure builds within Ray and it builds behind each door with no end in sight. When the hallway became a tunnel of doors he could not recall but there they were, looming and daring him. Ray continue to push through the murk in the air of the dank hallway and his eyes seem to play tricks now. The space in front the nearest door, all doors in the hall has begun to swim around itself. Currents of air wave back and forth as something takes shape beneath the supposed natural world which encompasses the area in front of each innocuous panel of wood screwed haphazardly to the crooked walls.
Brown. No more of a tan. This is the color that becomes apparent as the apparitions solidify and become reality or what Ray supposes is now reality at least for him. Slowly the vibrations in the air calmed and the fuzzy tan items began to take a shape. A shape Ray was familiar with in his usually normal life. They were boxes.
What the hell?
In front of every single door there now sat a box. Tan in color but all different sizes and girths. He came upon the first one and stared.
Is this for me? Do I open each of these? Is someone just playing games with me? What’s that smell? I swear I know that smell…what is it! It’s not sealed. The flaps are just criss-crossed. I could easily open this up and at least find out maybe what is going in this building. GOD! The smell is getting worse. Are those flies?
A door began to open on the other side of the box he stood over. The hinges creaked, straining, an enormous blue and green Hawaiian belly appeared before him. Bending down the belly became drooping breasts stretching the colored flowers, then multiple neck folds molted with body grease mixed with what he assumed was grey dirt and finally a disfigured face which all came together to form what he could only guess was a woman with protrusions out of her neck for arms. A woman who did not bathe but only sat and ate and picked up boxes left at her door by shear will of the universe. Ray stepped back. The grey orbs that sat in her face traced his body as she straightened up with her prize. She turned to close the door and while doing so her body expelled an odor, loudly proclaiming it’s presence from the vicinity of her ass. The stench required immediate departure causing Ray to nearly pass out while running farther down the hall. He tripped over boxes that were everywhere in the hallway. His body revolted from the noxious fumes he inhaled. He finally stopped. Standing in the hallway that he knew was much longer that it should be, he gathered himself; rubbing his stomach while staring at the walls.
Ray bent forward pressing the palms of his sweaty hands on the knees of his jeans. He moved his gaze down the wall to the floor beneath his tennis shoes.
What? What the hells all over my shoes? Fuck! What’s on the floor!?!
He peered from the floor at this feet to the surrounding tile. It was covered in burgundy dirt and mud. He followed the trail of muck from in front of him to the nearest offending box which he now noticed created the source of all the slimy mess from behind him at one end of the hall to the seemingly infinite edge of the hall remaining in front of him. Each one of them had to contain something dead. It was the only explanation. Ray had only seen something like this once in his lifetime. The accident on Macon Road near his Mother’s house when he was in his early 20s; he was headed back home after another failed date. The bodies were lying in dirt. It was all mixed together; dirt, blood, body fluids. Mesmerized he couldn’t take his eyes from the vile floor trying to process what this could all mean to him.
Why am I here…..
Ray stood, staring down the oppressive hall. The length and disparity of what lay before him taunting his senses; dragging him down into the pits of fiery nightmares of his youth. It brought forth the foreboding fears of the monster that lurked in his closet waiting for him to uncover his leg or arm so it could step out finally and devour his body in a bloody mess wiping his entrails off his maw after a midnight snack. He looked behind him, contemplating the entrance knowing he could go back out and try it all again. The though lingered in his mind turning over and over, tumbling in fashion. Then it was gone. He knew if he tried, knew if he headed back in his footsteps that still echoed in his memory that he would not find the door out. It would not be where he left it – something, someone wanted him to move forward. There was a pressure that built in him as he turned on his heel, his foot slowly making boot marks in the dirt and blood squelching farts sound of the floor from the moist body fluids finding their way up, making a home in his ear canal. The gooey noise caressed his lobes and whispered, move Ray – we are waiting.
Inhaling stale death he continued down his predetermined path. Stepping over boxes that litter the doorways while contemplating the pressure which continues to build from his bowels rising with each shaky movement until it fills his brain making his teeth chatter in anticipation. The air begins to shimmer again. Ray loosens a breath from his anguished lungs and it pools in front of him. A cloud of smoky white puffs he has seen quite often in the cold northern winters that come each year to his small town in Ohio. His sweat is no longer an unwelcome sticky on his back but a cool feeling which reminded him of the coolness he got when watching his favorite serial killer flicks. The cool of utter relaxation, the cool of deep comfort as you slide into freshly laundered bed sheets. This new feeling had him pressing back the tide in his mind, moving forward at a renewed pace. The vigor of his steps as he planted one foot before the other stamping his existence into each hard placed footfall on the filthy tiles and actually creating small splashes of gore while he dared the shimmering air to give him its newest vision. The building decided to cooperate with his wishes as the walls wobbled in and out there was a thunderous clap and his entire surroundings shook heavily on its foundation. The hall filled with a noxious odor again and a thin fog covered his view briefly before sliding away in snakelike ripples leaving him with direct site to a gargantuan steel door on massive hinges not ten feet before him at what was now the end of his torturous journey.
PART II – Ray’s Mother
Gray with bolts the size of his hands, the door towered before Ray. It stood to a height that defied that size of the wall holding it hostage laughing at the constraints of man’s idea of physics. Carvings adorned the surface which reminded him of Egyptian writings from PBS specials when he was a young child. They use to come on his old black and white television in the afternoons stealing him away to strange lands and taught him of the pyramids full of mummified dictators, their servants and fortunes amassed around them. There was a slick shiny glisten to the raised forms in a foreign tongue seeming to mimic the wet lining of a freshly gutted intestine. Ray stood in reverent silence contemplating where this may have dropped into existence from or who might be waiting on the other side. He slowly lifted his arm balling his fingers into a loose fist and with bold, solid hits he knocked three solid pounds. No longer feeling any of the apprehension in his bones as it seemed to seep out of his pores and disappear. The sound of this knock echoed with a booming crescendo. Roaring past his ears the noise reverberated through the air behind him.
BANG! BANG!! BANG!!!
Then, he waited. Ray’s breathing returned to normal patterns of slow inhales and even slower exhales while he waited. His heart-rate dropped and he began to feel the familiar calm he feels when he meditates each morning. A ritual he started when he was in his late teens. It helped him in keeping himself centered, allowing him to deal with the insanity that typically ensued his hours and days living at home with his dear, dear Momma.
Now….where did that come from…I haven’t had her in my head for years. This place is TRYING to drive me nuts. Open up now. I need to move on. I know you are on the other side there. I think I see your foot shadows under that door.
Ray had lowered his head with each release of oxygen until his chin was resting on his chest. Tranquil now he watched the shadows jitter in their stance. Slightly moving left to right trying to figure out if they (whoever they were) should open the door. Patiently he opened his lips and finally broke the silence which had engulfed him since Big Haiiwan Tits had left him in the wake of her butt-music.
“I see you.”
The syllables left his lips behind and slid through the metal door as a ghost through the wall touching lightly the ears that had waited for years to hear that voice. The stranger reached forward and Ray heard the fumble of an appendage on a handle. Groaning and creaking with ancient age secret mechanisms turned and gears grinded in response to the touch from the caretaker inside. Hissing in protest the door continued to swing open and Ray waited, at this point, rather impatiently yet slightly apprehensively after the horrible trek to get to this moment.
Something feels wrong.
His mind took a step back while his body remained rooted to the inches he stood form the threshold. A final screech of metal on metal and the door stood wide and in its frame stood the figure of a tiny woman. She stood no more than five feet from heel to the tip of her head if you didn’t include the wild mange of red hair that poked up off the balding patches, she looked Ray up and down with a coy grin and opened her arms to give him a warm welcome to his home.
“Raa-aay” came the high pitched sing-song voice that was the source of all the pain in his entire life from diapers to diploma.
He covered his eyes with quivering fingers and his mouth puckered, jaw bouncing between open and shut. A fish caught out of water looked more manly than him at the moment.
“Momma”, whimpered its way out of his lungs and hung quietly in the air between the two of them while he fought the urge to move into the waiting arms of his Mother. The Mother he buried not two years ago. She should be deep in the earth at this point conversing with worms and having tea with beetles but instead she was in HIS apartment that appeared to be unchanged except its current location in this apartment building at the intersection of Hell and Confusion.
“Ray, why did you take so long getting home?” sweet syrup pouring off of each syllable as Momma dropped her arms and instead beckoned him in with a wave of her hand. Her hand, of course, not cooperating perfectly as in death, your joints are not always to be trusted and her hand flopped backwards against her forearm. Huffing in frustration she violently flapped her arm causing the hand to swing back into place with a loud slap against her inner arm. She giggled in the delight of disgust this brought out of Ray’s eyes.
“Momma, why are you in my apartment?” Stepping into the entry she backed out of his way and made room for him to pass her. Sliding his feet across the carpet he entered the room refusing to make any contact with her body or eyes. The door slammed shut with a finality that seemed to tell him that life might not be much longer for him. He shambled further in and stared down the hall that was to the left on his entry/living room.
Dear fucking GOD! Its full of boxes..NOOOO!
He stopped in his tracks noticing the blood mixed mud prints he left in his wake. Finally daring his head to move he looked up into the face of his dead Mother. It had been two years but it had not taken the toll that he would have expected. Her body remained mostly intact but the biggest ringer for her condition was the smell of death wrapped in the warm arms of the compacted dirt. There were bugs peeking in and out of various tears and rips in her skin and her eyes occasionally disappeared behind a large worm or fat grub. He had opted for the cheapest casket he could find when she died. Ray decided he wouldn’t make that mistake with himself. Dead or not, he was not going to have things crawling on him for as long as he could help it.
“Ray! Pay attention boy.” Momma’s jowls jiggled reminding him how in full bodied life she had been almost as large around as she had been tall. Fleas jumped from her chin aiming for anything to keep spreading and her eyes bore into him with supernatural strength
“I am here because of you and your lazy ineptitude. Just like when you were a kid. Can’t finish a damn thing and always running from your own shadow. Most pathetic child ever. You need to follow me and open your damn ears boy.” Her voice was strong yet muffled from a bloated tongue and a maw full of earth. Huffing and grunting, waddling in her death walk a worse visual than even her waddle when she was breathing life – she shuffled past Ray dropping bits and pieces along the way. Ray followed at a pace that longed to be going out the door but instead moved his feet over the piles of rot containing a tooth here and then a finger next. Doing his best to not step on anything that was once attached to his Momma he looked up into the hall as they entered.