Flash Fiction Challenge: Recalculating

Flash Fiction prompt 022 windshield feather frost COMP
Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

The frosty designs on the windshield looked pretty until I remembered where I was: lost.

The GPS had said to turn left and follow County Road 2941 for thirty miles. Thirty miles turned into fifty on a winding mountain dirt road. When it got dark, I parked in the first pull-out I could find. Then I fell asleep.

I wasn’t sure if the morning light, the aching cold in my feet, or my hungry stomach woke me. Or maybe it was that weird noise…

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please.

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On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Recalculating”

  1. Grunt, snort, fumble. The car began to shake and rock – just a little at first, then more. Something moved outside the car window but with all that frost I couldn’t make it out. It was big, though. I occurred to me it might be a bear, but this was winter. Bears aren’t out in winter.

    Before I had time to muddle all this out in my half-awake state, whatever it was went to the other side of the car – my side. With my last vestige of presence of mind I pressed the lock button on my door, only to remember I had done that last night before going to sleep.

    A small space at the top had not yet been claimed by the frost patterns my breath had made inside the windows. Two intelligent eyes, framed by a wild mass of white, peered in at me and began knocking on my window, as if asking to be let in.

    Frozen with fear, I made no move to respond. It walked back to the passenger side and tried the door. I must have forgotten to lock that one. It opened.

    The creature got in beside me. “Here. Coffee and a sandwich. And turn on that engine, idiot, or we’ll both freeze.”

    At my paralyzed stare he added, “I only wear the red at Christmas time.” He reached over and turned on the ignition. “They call me Yeti the rest of the year. “ Then he grinned. “Don’t tell anyone.”

  2. First, stay calm

    I woke to the cracking.
    Sounded like the ice breaking up but this was February and even with global warming the lake was ice covered two feet deep. The air did not smell fresh like spring break up time. It smelled like blood. A shot had pierced the jeep’s windshield and hit my upper right arm. Must have been so cold I couldn’t feel it. How to stop the blood, how to stay alive. I groped for extra underwear from the glove compartment and wrapped it tight around my arm. No more shots. Had this one been random? If the jeep hadn’t run out of gas I would have more options, Meet my maker time I feared,
    I had feared this before. OK. First, stay calm. Second, notice everything. Third, act fast.
    I heard the crunch of boots on snow. Four slow heavy steps and then a heavy landing. A whimper. A quiet. I cranked open the stiff window and looked behind. More walking sounds. Then I saw the wolf. I relaxed.

  3. I held my breath for a minute and listened intently. Nothing. So weird: I could have sworn I heard something, and it was close.

    After bringing my seat upright, I rifled through the console for my cell phone. No signal. Of course. I turned on the GPS. Searching for satellite. Great. Even Garmin didn’t know where we were. This was not good.

    I told Brian he should have made the delivery himself. You don’t mess with the mob. What would they do to him when I didn’t show? And I couldn’t even call him. I knew I shouldn’t have taken the GPS. I should have gone old school and brought a flipping map.

    I couldn’t believe one wrong turn was going to get my best friend killed.

    Just then, I heard that noise again. Thump thump. It was so close! The thumping continued – the car shook. A chill came over me, but it wasn’t from the cold. Oh crap…

    No, there was just no way. I swallowed hard, pulled my keys from the ignition, and cracked the door open. Slowly, carefully, quietly, I scanned in every direction.

    Satisfied no one was around, I walked to the back of the car and popped the trunk. Genetti’s eyes were open and he was looking right at me. He squirmed. Thank goodness Brian had tied him up and duct taped his mouth, or this could have been an even bigger disaster. But he was supposed to be dead… Now what was I supposed to do?

  4. I searched the inside of the car looking for the weird noise until I discovered a blinking, blue light underneath the passenger seat. Hesitantly, I reached my hand out and touched it.

    “Identifying…” said a female voice from somewhere in the car. I snatched my hand from under the seat and looked around trying to figure out where the voice had come from.

    “Trevor Bishop, white male, twenty-six years old, six foot three inches tall. Wanted for petty theft and grand theft auto in Chicago,” the voice said. There was audible click that sounded an awful lot like doors locking.

    “What the…,” I said, grabbing the door handle in vain. Locked. I tried to open the glove compartment. It was locked too, and with my gun was inside. I slammed the back of my head against the headrest and stared in disbelief at the frosty design on the windshield that I had been admiring a moment ago. It didn’t look so frosty anymore. In fact, it looked a lot like a face. An ugly face too. I watched as the frost transformed into a balding, fifty something year old man.

    “Hi Trevor,” the man said.

    “Hi,” I replied with a small, pathetic wave.

    “How did you become to be in possession of this car?”

    “I swear I found it empty and unlocked in a parking lot.”

    “You mean, you stole it.”

    “That too.”

    “Interesting,” the man said with a smile. “That means you get finish Agent Daniel’s mission.”

  5. LOST AND FOUND: When I woke, snowflakes were falling on the windshield blocking my view, so I turned over the car’s engine and flicked on the wipers. Nothing looked familiar, yet I could have sworn I had seen a sign for County Road 2941. I was on my way…where? My heart took on a rapid beating in my chest and I felt nauseous, and so I opened the driver’s side door and stepped out of the vehicle. The snow covering the ground was like a cloud, light and feathery. I sucked in my lungs the cold air and breathed deep breaths to try and calm my heart to its normal rhythm. Through the falling snowflakes I could see there was a cottage down the road on the left atop a small hill. The cottage looked warm and inviting with its chimney puffing billows of white smoke, so I journeyed to the cottage. I stood at the end of the driveway and a young man stepped out onto the front porch. Then out of the blue, a German Shepard came barreling towards me. I couldn’t move. The Shepard leapt at me and his two front paws came up quickly, knocking me to the ground. I stumbled and fell in a seated position into the billowy snow bank. The young man arrived and dropped down at my side. He began hugging me, saying, “Oh, mom, I’m so glad you’re okay. I was so worried. You were supposed to arrive three days ago”

  6. The snowstorm raged on, blinding Sophie’s view through the windshield. Lucky for her, though her eyes couldn’t see, her GPS told her precisely where to go.

    It struck her as strange, however, that the GPS wasn’t leading her to Montreal by the highway. Instead, it brought her in dangerous winding roads where a deer or moose might pop out from nowhere.

    Night had already set and, to her sorrow, the gas tank was almost empty.

    “Where am I?” thought Sophie, as the austere pines at each side the road flew by.

    Soon, she arrived at a small cottage. The GPS told her she had arrived at destination. She slammed the door behind her and examined a long row of seemingly abandoned cars.

    This is no Montreal, she thought. And where are all the people?

    The cottage was so small that it made Sophie wonder why there were so many cars around. But it was getting cold and late and she needed shelter.

    It was with relief that she noticed a man coming out of the house. He wore thick eyeglasses and had piercing eyes which made him look intimidating.

    He smiled. “What took you so long? I’ve been waiting for you for hours!”

    “You did? But I don’t even know you.”

    “Of course, we never met. Your GPS brought you here. You see, I’ve programmed the thing myself.”

    “What? I don’t understand.”

    He took out a gun. “You don’t have to understand, only to suffer and writhe and die.

  7. I watched in fascination as the frost swirled and danced on the windshield. It was beautiful, unlike anything I’d ever seen. I’d always loved the winter, and even being lost I felt comfortable, happy.
    The noise got louder, and I realized it was someone laughing. But the laughing was different, it sounded almost like…bells?
    I knew getting out was probably dangerous. I should start my car and find my way out of here. But curiosity overwhelmed me, I had to look.
    The car door was stuck, and I had to kick hard to get it open. The laughter grew louder.
    What I saw outside took my breath away. Tall pines surrounded me, and the world was covered in the most amazing, beautiful sparkling new fallen snow. I stood in awe, and I was smiling.
    “Have you ever seen anything so wonderful?”
    I spun around, but there was nobody there. I heard the laughter once more.
    “We did this for you, you know.”
    Again I looked, and this time I saw something shimmering. The shimmer slowly took the form of a human, blue, with wings.
    “For me?”
    She nodded, and I could see her smile.
    “You’re one of us. And now the time has come for you to come home.”
    One of them. “A faerie?”
    She nodded. “A winter faerie. But I think you’ve always known that.”
    I did. She held out her hand, and I went with her.
    And I never looked back.

  8. “I call it a ‘window’”, Alfryd said.

    “Is that because it lets the wind in?” asked Gregor, scowling at the frosty rectangular hole in the wall above their communal sleeping pallet.

    “I can feel a draft” Gertrude nodded sternly.

    “Win-dow,” Alfryd enunciated. “It’s made of glass.”

    “I get that from your mother’s turnip stew,” said Gregor, deftly dodging Gertrude’s wooden spoon. “But it’s never made me blow a hole in the wall!”

    “Glass, father. I made it with melted sand. I stole the secret from the Romans!”

    Gregor reached for a jar of ale. “Ah, well there’s a useful skill. You can just go from village to village. ‘Are you after having your sand melted? I can make a hole in your house, for you too!’ I’m cursed with an idiot for a son.” He drank deeply.

    “It’s progress!” sputtered Alfryd.

    “And I’m the Maid of the Oak Grove” giggled Gertrude.

    “You were at one time.” Gregor made a grab at his wife’s skirts.

    Alfryd closed his mind to the image.

    There was a sudden crash, followed by the sound of the first of many generations of laughing, fleeing children. A frozen horse turd rolled to a stop in front of the hearth, amid frosty shards, and began to steam.

    “Progress?!” Gregor harrumphed. “There’s planks in the sheep pen. Fetch them – NOW!”

    Alfryd slouched out the door.

    “And next time you steal information from the Romans,” his father called after him, “try to find out where they hide their gold!”

  9. Damn it’s cold.

    Ash and snow were a terrible mixture. Not frozen, but not liquid, it was a slush with the stench of charcoal. Better than the smell of charred flesh, I guess. The bombs had taken out three cities in the distance, their vast cloud billowing up into the sky. I booked it the minute I saw them; no clothes packed, no warning calls to my friends. My gun, a hundred rounds and my survival coat.

    Oh, and my keys.

    The great thing about survival bunkers is that if you never use them, it’s no more a loss than any other hobby. At the end of the world, though, they make all the difference. They make you one of the lucky few, a survivor.

    Unfortunately the attacks came from within the border. Now my car’s half-buried under that wretched slush and I can hear them outside.

    The squawk of a radio.

    The grinding crunch of tank treads on concrete.

    The crackle of tire chains on ice.

    Men shouting or laughing.

    They’re right outside the car. I don’t know if it’s a patrol or an army or something else altogether.

    The bunker was supposed to be up here, that’s what the deed said. Pre-furnished, a cool two million to load it up with guns and supplies to last a couple years at least. Uncle Joe’s inheritance had gone to good use. So I thought.

    First lost. Then out of gas.

    Now I’m behind enemy lines.

    Damn, it’s really cold.

  10. The scratching fingers of frost seeped into the gaps, sealing the space between two worlds.
    One, the space of the car’s interior, cold and desolate, inhuman as my exhale created puffs of living smog.
    The other containing everything else. The destination technology was supposed to be leading me toward. The turmoil I was trying to escape. Stress. Annoyance.
    No phone here. No demands from the sniveling little boss man. No warrants served to my home. No garnishments cutting my little miniscule compensation to a noodles in a cup and stolen ketchup packet budget.
    Here there was only a cold premonition of slowly stiffening until vitality ceased.
    The smile returned. It had fled in disappointment when I awoke.
    Would I be missed? How long before someone finds me?
    The logging road wasn’t quite as desolate as I had hoped. The wrong turn led me up the mountain instead of down with no place to turn around.
    Farewell to the vision of coming to a close at the peaceful lake I used to camp by in the golden days of my spring and summer. It was as isolated from the real world as my mind.
    But this would do. My winter had set in. There would be no thaw.
    Terminal. The word had been echoed so many times, reverberating the knell of love and legacy gone so long ago.
    Numbness crept from toe and finger, gaining territory in the no-man’s-land of my soul.
    Silence.

  11. The noise grew louder and came closer. What could it be? I locked my car doors. A limb on the big blue spruce swished across my windshield and retreated. The sky grew dark and the noise louder. Something blocked the sun.

    I made a recording on my phone, “I Jason Farrington hereby bequest all of my worldly possessions to my brother Andrew, and if I don’t make it to my 21st birthday party I apologize to my girlfriend Angela.”

    The deafening noise hurt my ears, roaring like a hungry bear and buzzing like a million angry bees. Oh my God, it must be at least ten foot tall. That big bear stumble out from behind the tree, screaming and roaring. A swarm of darkness surrounded his head and body. He danced and clawed his own face, collapsing in front of my car. The killer bees finished him and left. I drove away.

  12. Wretched

    Ice settling into my veins, freezing my very essence, memories etched on my face.
    Old relationships tainting our now, if I had a GPS that could charter our course, I would happily comply.

    I’m afraid of the unspoken, the not-happened-yet rows. In my head scenarios, play, constantly on repeat. The voices in my head won’t stop, day and night, heckling, whistling and prodding. Ideas percolate and brew.

    Jealousy is a constant companion, she never leaves me alone. A few minutes late and she’s doing her thing, I’m checking his emails again.

    There was a time, I can hardly remember now, when I trusted everyone and everything, the world was a wonderful playground. Disappointments, betrayals have turned me in what I now see creeping, bitterly across the mirror. A wretched, scared of her shadow, soon to be dried up prune.

    I got a cat and I was even jealous of that, where did she go? When not with me, who’s she seeing? What had they got that I hadn’t? Ironically it’s the past that made me what I am, but it’s the unknown that’s killing us, now. I’m trying to live in the present to enjoy what we are but the future is pissing on my lamppost, marking me, leaving a scar.

  13. A sort of rattle thump, rattle thump assaulted the still morning air. With frozen fingers, I scraped at the ice crystals that had formed inside the windows of my car, but it wasn’t enough to see the source of the sounds.

    I rolled down the window, metal scrap in large piles towered over the side of the car. The same view greeted me out the passenger side window as well. The mountain had grown beside each door and trapped me within.

    I scraped vigorously at the front window but it still wasn’t enough. I couldn’t see much beyond the fog and ice that covered it. I wasn’t thinking, desperation took control of my motor skills. Instead of doing the intelligent action of turning the key and filling the car with the heat of a warm engine, I stuck my head out the driver’s side window.

    Creatures on stilts sifted through the mountains of metal. Engrossed in their tasks they hadn’t noticed me nor my car. That changed when I fired her up.

    The engine coughed and sputtered in the cold morning air. When she caught, she roared into life. The tires spun as I pulled away from the growing tomb of scrap metal. But it clamped down tight, held my front end as my tires smoked the pavement.

    The creatures raced toward my car as I finally broke free. I slammed the stick into drive and never looked back again, still have no idea where I spent that night.

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