Friday, September 6, 2013


My attempt at another one of Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges. I'm calling it, though-- failure at 5:30am. Posting the mess here in the hopes someone can tell me what went wrong.
(Sorry for the shitty formatting, I'm too tired to fix it right now.)

EDIT: You can find the prompt here, by the way. I rolled a 14, if it isn't clear.


“Mmm… yes, maybe if….” Howard muttered to himself, shuffling through the loose collection of papers that served as the Particular Peculiars ledger. Every time Xiva saw the horrific mess, she’d tell him he should find an accountant, or at the very least use a proper ledger, and every time he had waved her away, saying his ‘system worked fine’. Now, faced with the need to move a considerable number of things around to find room in the budget for a new hire, he found the only thing that could possibly be less organized than his ‘system’ would be his system, on fire. In a hurricane.

There was the chance that Xiva could parse the mess more effectively, with seven eyes to decipher scribbled numbers and four hands to move rumpled papers, but even if he could bring himself to admit defeat, she was on vacation. He was about to give up completely when there was a knock on his office door. He took a last look at the pile of papers, sighed, and unceremoniously pushed them onto the floor. “Come in,” he said, rubbing his temples.

Sylesia walked in, the impressive array of tentacles sprouting from her back dragging softly behind her. “Can we talk a minute?” she asked. She looked at the mess on the floor. “Unless you’re busy.”

“No, no,” Howard said, folding his hands on the desk. “I’m just giving myself a headache. Please, sit. What’s on your mind?”

She sat, resting on the very edge of the chair. “Well, it’s just… just that….” Her tentacles twitched uncomfortably behind her.

He leaned forward. “What is it, Sylesia? Talk to me.”

“I... don’t think I want to do this job anymore.”

Howard sighed before he could stop himself.

“Don’t get me wrong!” she said. “It’s not like you and everyone else haven’t been good to me. Really good. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Spirit only knows what would have happened if you and Xiva hadn’t taken me in. It’s just--.”

“Is the job getting to you? Believe me, I know prostitution isn’t for everyone, but--.”

“No, it’s fine. A career change is part of it, actually, but not the biggest part.”

“Is this about money? I could give you a raise….” He looked at the mess on the floor. “...I think.”

“No, not really.” she said, looking off to the side. Her tentacles were starting to pull up close to her body, something Howard vaguely remembered being an involuntary fear response in her species.

“It’s about Pheni, isn’t it.”

She nodded. “That... yeah.”

“I can understand that.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Look, I… I’m sorry if you don’t feel as safe here as you should. That any of you don’t feel as safe as you should. Making this a safe place is part of my job, and I failed all of you. Especially Pheni.” He paused. “I don’t suppose it would help if I said I was trying to find room in the budget for some security, would it?”

Sylesia shook her head.

“All right. Do you think you could stick around a few days, though? Just a couple. Until I can find someone to replace you.”

She thought a moment. “I suppose. It’s just a few days, right?”

The first two days passed uneventfully. Or at least as uneventfully as they usually did. A drunken client here, a spouse on the warpath there. Then on the third day, Howard heard someone yelling in the lobby. He went out to take a look.
The noise was coming from a six foot two body builder type