Today’s post is brought to you by the letter F! For Flash! And Fiction! And Friday!
I love Chuck Wendig’s blog TERRIBLEMINDS.COM. Occasionally he posts flash fiction challenges with odd writing prompts. Today, I let a random number generator help me select a title that I would use as the inspiration for a thousand word short story. For fun! And other F words.
THE MESA ROOM
I had exactly 30 seconds to sweet talk the receptionist into letting me go.
Leaning against her desk, I said, “So, is there any way you… might… um…” The look on her face made me stop. I had a good foot of height on her, but she still managed to look down on me.
“Cute, kid. Just sit back down and wait for Dr. Malhotra, m’kay?”
Well, crap. Plan A was out. Plan B wasn’t much better. Plus, it relied too heavily on a distracting bulldog (didn’t have) and an unwatched helicopter on the roof (ditto).
I slumped into a well-worn leather chair against the far wall. Maybe I wasn’t dead yet. Maybe they were just calling me to the Sedona room for a checkup. You know, to make sure their merchandise was still hunky-dory. Or maybe they were just bringing me to the Phoenix room again to review my file and tell me how horrendously behind on payments my parents were. That I already knew. No surprise there.
But they couldn’t possibly be bringing me to the Mesa room. The kill room. Dr. Mal would joke about doing an early repo every time I’d get brought in by the police for my “problem behavior,” but that was just because he was a dick. It was against the law to repossess the organs of a minor, even one with a thick disciplinary record like me. I still had a year and a half until I turned eighteen. He couldn’t touch me.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. At least, I’d been pretty sure Dr. Mal was joking.
An unreasonably tall woman with grey eyes, grey hair and grey scrubs stepped into the lobby. She smiled at me, or whatever you’d call that facial expression, and read off a clipboard.
“Mason, Alex? Product 100387?”
“387 is my father’s name. Please, just call me Product,” I said. There was no use lying. The barcode was tattooed on my neck. The silent treatment would just earn me a very painful escort. That I’d learned the hard way. The best I could do was make a smart-ass remark. Her face remained blank.
I followed her down a maze of hallways. Right – left – right – right – left again – through a door – through another door – right – left. If we were headed to the Mesa room, I couldn’t escape if I wanted to. There was no way I’d remember how to get back out of this labyrinth. If the security cameras didn’t catch me, one of the many ginormous, ‘roided-up orderlies we passed definitely would.
At last, we stopped in front of a door- MESA II. She gave me the same smile as before only this time I noticed that it was definitely a sneer. Great. Even nurse Grey McGreypants had it out for me. She opened the door and my heart – the one they had given me – started racing. They were going to repo me early after all. Maybe there was some law change that I hadn’t paid attention to. Stupid, boring politics.
I wasn’t even going to get to say goodbye to anyone. Nobody knew I was here. I understood that I’d get repo’ed eventually, but I figured I had a few things to look forward to before they were legally able to take my life because my family was too poor to make payments.
I wasn’t ready to die. I had so many things I wanted to do still. I wasn’t going to be able to punch Calden Hardwell in the face for always making fun of the stutter I get when I’m mad. I wasn’t going to get the chance to feel up Mellissa Deagen behind the gym. I wasn’t going to be able to egg Dr. Mal’s Bugatti. Dang. I really wanted to do that.
The nurse cleared her throat impatiently and gestured for me to go into MESA II. I stepped inside and the door locked behind me. They all did. Kept kids like me from getting wise ideas.
The Mesa room looked like any other operating room, except that it was designed to take lives, not save them. I hadn’t expected to see it empty, though. Nobody around. That was fine by me.
If this was the last room I would ever see, I was going to enjoy the hell out of it.
I pulled out a sharpie that I always kept on me and drew a few “tasteful” images on the large lamps that hung over the gurney. I shoved a wad of paper towels in the bottom of the sink, and turned the faucet on so it would overflow. Then, I grabbed a jar of tongue depressors and began licking every single one of them.
“No reason to be inappropriate, Alex,” said a smarmy voice behind me. Dr. Malhotra. I hadn’t noticed he’d entered. He reached over me and turned the water off, then looked down at his clipboard with a smirk. “You’re over a year early. Anxious to get it done and over with?”
My heart pounded and I balled my fists. Through gritted teeth I said, “Y-y-you called m-me here.” Hell. He made me stuttering mad. I clenched my jaw, not wanting him to see me weak.
He raised an eyebrow, “Did I? My mistake. Wishful thinking, I suppose. Ah well, better luck next time, eh?” He tapped his pen against the jar of tongue depressors and left. Dick.
He shut the door before I could follow him out. It was locked again. I flipped over a few small tables and paced around the room, trying to calm down. After a few minutes, my heart slowly began returning to its normal factory authorized rhythm. About ten minutes later, Grey walked in and sneered at me to leave. She didn’t have to tell me twice.
The receptionist stopped me on the way out to hand over an appointment card. The kind that dentists use so you don’t forget a cleaning. Or that psychotic doctors use to remind you when they’re going to rip out a vital organ.
The card said, “Look forward to seeing you at your next appointment – Dr. Malhotra.”
I muttered a few inappropriate words. He really was a dick. As soon as I got outside I called home. I was alive, for now, and I needed to get busy living.
“Hey m-ma? H-how many eggs we got left?”