Beatrice the Incorrigible – Flash Fiction

 

I’ve been DYING to write a story with a super-powered octogenarian antagonist for some time now. So when this challenge came up and I found this photo to inspire a story, I knew my time had come.

*Laughs maniacally*

It was really difficult for me to keep this around a thousand words. There were so many antics I had to cut. I think I’ll keep Beatrice Clutterbuck around for awhile and find a way to write her into another story. She is just way, way too much fun.

Please enjoy!


Beatrice the Incorrigible

 

“Mom! I’m sixteen! I don’t need a babysitter!” cried Adriana.

“You shouldn’t need one Mija but I’m not an idiot. I’m not leaving you alone for the whole weekend,” said Mrs. Martinez, turning to inspect her hair in an ornate silver mirror that hung in the entry hall.

“Why?” said Adriana, impetuously.

Mrs. Martinez scoffed, “Where do I begin? Last month’s house party? The fireworks fiasco? Not to mention that thing with the neighbor’s Chihuahua,” she said. She shook her head, “I don’t even know where you found twenty pounds of sardines…”

Adriana smiled involuntarily at the memory then quickly returned to her serious expression. She wasn’t trying to throw a party. This time, anyway. But she needed to be able to leave their townhouse at midnight. It was too important. She scowled at her mom, “I still think it’s stupid. Mrs. Clutterbuck is like, a hundred years old.”

“She’s not a hundred, she’s eighty four. And actually, she’s pretty spry for an octogenarian,” said Mrs. Martinez thoughtfully. She gave her hair another fluff then turned towards Adriana, “You might actually have fun.”

Adriana rolled her eyes dramatically to let her mom know exactly what she thought of that. “Doubtful,” she muttered, frowning. It shouldn’t be that hard to sneak past an old woman, but Adriana couldn’t help but worry. What if she couldn’t make it out for The Event? She’d never get a second chance with Marcos. Tewania would just love it if she got stuck at home.

“You’ll be fine.” Mrs. Martinez said. She gave Adriana a kiss on the forehead and grabbed her overnight bag just as the doorbell rang. “What impeccable timing, Mrs. Clutterbuck.”

“Please, call me Beatrice,” said the elderly woman standing on the front stoop. She was a petite blonde woman with glasses that covered half her face and wrinkles carved so deep in her skin you could lose small toys in them. “And you,” she said looking right at Adriana, “Can forget about your little escape plan. Midnight is way too late for a girl your age to roam the city by herself.”

Adriana froze. How did she know? Did one of her friends say something? Tewania wouldn’t stoop as low as snitching, would she? Mrs. Martinez laughed as she headed out the door, “See? I knew you’d be great to have here. Muchos gracias, Beatrice.”

The door closed.

Beatrice walked into the living room and sat down in an overstuffed recliner. She snuggled into the chair. “God in heaven this is luxurious,” she said, closing her eyes and sighing contentedly. After a minute she turned back to Adriana, “Your friend didn’t rat you out so you can stop worrying about it.”

A prickly feeling crawled down Adriana’s spine. She glanced at the old woman. Beatrice looked like she could probably be carried away in a strong breeze but there was an intensity in her gaze. Something more alive than Adriana had been expecting. And something else. It was almost as though… No. It was impossible. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she muttered.

Beatrice smiled crookedly at her and raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you? Oh, I see. You think I’m some senile old fool playing a guessing game. Well, you’re only three quarters right, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. Ah, yes. Yes, that. That too. The number eleven. Forty two. A purple monkey playing a kazoo wearing a Royals cap.”

“¡Dios mío! You can read my mind!” gasped Adriana, eyes wide.

“Among other things,” said Beatrice, eyes twinkling impishly.

“But how?” said Adriana, “I mean, that’s imposs-”

Loud snoring cut her off. Beatrice Clutterbuck was asleep.

A thousand and one thoughts whirled in Adriana’s head, least of which were her many, many questions about Beatrice’s mind reading ability and sudden narcoleptic episode. She still needed to get out of the house and meet Marcos. She glanced at the time on her phone. It was 10:37. She could slip out now while Beatrice was asleep and meet Tewania early. They had already planned on getting ready together.

She tip-toed past Beatrice. Carefully, cautiously, she opened the door and stepped outside. Then, she sprinted down the street. Adriana had no idea how close Beatrice needed to be to read her mind, but she wanted to put as much distance between her and the old woman as possible.

Six blocks away, she slowed down to catch her breath. She scanned the area to get her bearings. It was an industrial block that emptied the moment factories closed during the day. Nobody with good intentions hung around once the sun went down. Adriana shivered, suddenly aware of how dark it was. A shadowy figure emerged from behind a burnt out lamp post ahead.

“It is way too late for a girl your age to roam the city by yourself,” said the figure. Adriana screamed and ran in the opposite direction. Or at least, that’s what she tried to do. She was somehow completely immobilized and could only watch, wide-eyed, as the figure reached for her. For a brief moment she thought she caught sight of wispy blonde hair and glasses.

Then, it was gone.

She was back inside her mother’s townhouse. Beatrice snored in the chair. Adriana whirled around. Had she just hallucinated? She checked the time on her phone. It was 11:03. She would have hardly any time to get ready at Tewania’s now. Adriana slipped past Beatrice and went for the door. A shock jolted her and she pulled her hand away. Tentatively, she tried the handle again. This time, a stronger current coursed through her body.

“Ow!” she yelled, leaping backwards.

“Not trying to leave, are you?” said Beatrice sweetly. She regarded Adriana from under her gigantic glasses with a smirk.

“What the hell was that?” said Adriana, pointing to the door handle. She ignored the fact that Beatrice had been snoring half a second ago and narrowed her eyes at the older woman, “did you do that?”

“Of course,” said Beatrice, looking slightly offended that Adriana even had to ask.

“And that was you, too. Down the street,” she said.

Beatrice smiled back at her, eyes glinting mischievously. “I told you to forget about your little escape plan.”

Adriana leaned back against the wall and groaned, “This is going to be a long weekend.”

“No longer than any other weekend,” said Beatrice, her smile flickering slightly, “I can’t slow down time unfortunately, which is a shame. This chair is really quite comfortable.”

“Whatever,” said Adriana. She looked longingly at the door. Tewania would go to The Event without her and would probably end up hooking up with Marcos now that she couldn’t go. There was no way she’d be able to sneak out now. She turned to Beatrice and scowled, “Well, I guess I’ll go to my room and watch YouTube videos since it looks like-”

Loud snoring cut her off. Beatrice Clutterbuck was asleep.

Jeremy Pocket & the See-Through Wall | Flash Fiction

Always the rebel, I chose a title from Chuck Wendig’s Flash fiction challenge that *at the time* nobody had chosen. I wanted to be different. I still am different, but for separate reasons completely un-related to my writing or the challenge because I’m just that cool  awesome  magnificent stunning strange.

Yup. Let’s go with that one. Strange.

Anyhoo, I took a more serious route with this one than I’ve done for some of my other pieces (although I still managed to slip in a good ol’ fashioned poop joke). I’m anxious to see how it plays against what I’ve already written.

Please enjoy!


Jeremy Pocket & the See-through Wall

If Jeremy Pocket had any sort of strength, he would have thrown a chair right through that damn wall.

“What the hell, Christine?” he yelled at no one, raking a hand through his hair in frustration. “What are you thinking? Why would you go back to him?” He pounded a fist on the glossy surface of the viewing wall.

Sometimes being in the control room made Jeremy feel so powerless. Sure, as a World Influence & Effects Technician he had more power than when he was human. He could push a button and change the weather, alter traffic patterns or put a thought into somebody’s head, but he couldn’t actually control someone. He could just influence them. They could do what they wanted with his inspiration. Free will and all. It was such a pain in the ass.

“Easy there, Pocket,” said a voice behind him. Jeremy whirled around. Caroline leaned against his terminal, arms folded, and smiled at him indulgently. “You might break a nail or something and ruin those pretty hands of yours.”

Jeremy gave her a half-hearted smile. If he had to spend eternity working alongside someone, he was glad it was Caroline Pierce. She never asked about his hang up with Christine. In fact, Caroline pretty much ignored everything he did on the other side of the wall so long as he completed his share of assignments.

“These aren’t pretty hands, they’re rugged and manly,” responded Jeremy in mock-offense.

Caroline rolled her eyes and headed to the control terminal next to him. “There are many words I’d use to describe you, Pocket. Rugged and manly aren’t them.”

“Well, how would you describe me then?”

“Let’s see,” she said, ticking off items with her fingers, “You’re intelligent, generous, kind… and when you aren’t being a selfish twat you’re actually pretty damn charming.”

“Don’t forget devilishly handsome,” Jeremy added jokingly.

“Uh, yeah. That too,” said Caroline, her cheeks flushing slightly. She tucked a stray lock of auburn hair behind her ears and turned to straighten a stack of instructions from their shift manager at her own terminal. “Um. Okay. There’s a thunderstorm on the books for the Midwest… A few politicians need to think about retirement… Nothing really major on the agenda today.”

Jeremy nodded, but he was focused on Christine’s mental feed. Her thoughts were on Rory Michaelson. They were always on Rory now. Just like before. She was headed to his place.

“Damn it, Christine,” he muttered. No matter how many times Jeremy reminded her of Rory’s philandering ways or how he treated her like shit, she always found a way to dismiss it. Christine thought she was imagining things. It was stupid.

Jeremy tapped a button on his terminal and the wall flashed to an untidy apartment. Rory had a girl over. The blonde again. Maybe Christine would get there before the other girl leaves. Surely, if she actually saw Rory with someone else, she wouldn’t stay with him. Jeremy pulled up Christine’s route and adjusted every traffic light on her way to green.

“So I was thinking, if you didn’t have anything planned after work today maybe we could…” Caroline’s eyes flitted to Jeremy’s terminal and her face fell, “Oh. I didn’t realize you were still-”

“Whatever. It’s nothing,” said Jeremy. He flipped a switch on his terminal and Christine’s face transformed into Midwestern weather patterns. “How big a storm are we rolling?”

She regarded him steadily, then sighed. “Not very. Just enough for a few power outages in Kansas City.” She paused a moment, her eyebrows knitting together in a thoughtful expression, “Listen. You should really-”

“I’ll adjust a high pressure system over Kansas. You do your thing,” he said hastily.

Her frown deepened and Jeremy found himself frowning in response. Why couldn’t she just leave him alone like she always did? He turned his body away from her and focused on inputting alterations in his terminal.

Tried to focus, at least. The schedule for the day was boring and his thoughts strayed back to Christine. Once Caroline was thoroughly occupied with cumulonimbus formations he switched the image on the wall.

Christine was at Rory’s now. She was arguing with him, and he was trying to explain away the blonde in his bedroom. A smile tugged at Jeremy’s mouth but quickly disappeared when he saw that Christine’s thought feed surged with doubt. She wanted to believe him.

Jeremy raked a hand angrily through his hair. “Damn it! He’s going to get away with it again!”

He felt a soft touch on his shoulder and flinched. It was Caroline. She looked at him with a sort of pained expression.

“Why don’t you take off? I got this covered today,” she said slowly, like every word took effort.

“No. It’s okay. It’s stupid. I’m fine,” he muttered, touching a few keys on the terminal to take him back to Midwestern weather.

“I mean it,” said Caroline. She whirled him around to face her, “You’re not well.”

“I’m fine,” he repeated.

“You’re not. You’re going to drive yourself crazy obsessing over her like this.”

Jeremy glared at her. Of all the days to pick a fight with him. “Just forget it, okay? Let me do my job.”

“I will when you start doing your job!” She glared back at him, “You’ve been consumed with your ex-fiancé’s love life since day one up here!”

“Let. It. Go.”

“You let it go!” Caroline was yelling now, “You died, Jeremy! She moved on. That’s how it works. You need to move on too!”

Jeremy opened his mouth to yell at her. To tell her she was wrong. But she wasn’t. “I… I can’t” he said instead, his voice barely a whisper. He buried his face in his hands.

Caroline’s expression softened. It was sympathetic. Caring.

After a long moment she said, “You can’t control her life now any more than you could when you were alive.”

“I know.”

“She makes her own decisions, even if they’re bad.”

“I know,” he said.

A roguish smile spread across Caroline’s face. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t make life down there a little difficult for a certain special asshole.”

“You don’t mean…” he started, eyes widening in shock.

“Oh, that’s totally what I mean. In fact, I have it on good authority that a certain blonde has already decided to dose Rory’s morning coffee with laxatives,” she said with a sly smirk. “Yup. It’s too bad he’s also going to get stuck in heavy traffic on the way to work. He, um, definitely won’t get to work on time.”

Jeremy laughed. He couldn’t help it. Caroline beamed at him affectionately, “That’s just the beginning. If you’re interested, I have decades of pain and torment up my sleeve.” She smiled and it lit up her whole face. Even her eyes sparkled. Jeremy wondered why he hadn’t noticed it before. She was actually sort of beautiful. He smiled back at her, whole-heartedly this time.

“Oh, you’re an evil one Ms. Pierce,” he said, chuckling.

“You don’t know the half of it, Mr. Pocket,” she said.

“Tell me more about your dastardly plans of pain and torment.”

“I’ll do you one better,” she said, flipping a few controls on his terminal. The view through the wall transformed into Rory’s apartment. “Let’s watch.”