Flash Fiction: Victoria Falls

Here is my first stab at a flash fiction. Not sure how I feel about it. Honest critiques are appreciated!

Victoria Falls

Simplicity.  Monotony.  Words that hold such negative connotation for most of America, but in Victoria Falls, they’re qualities we love.

Not much has changed here over the past several decades.  Our banks still have tellers and withdrawal slips.  Our grocery store still has Billy who bags our food.  Most people drive trucks older than me.  They don’t break down often when every man in the town knows how to fix them up right again.

It’s a quiet town.  Less than 500 of us. Nothing exciting.  Comfortable.  Reliable.

I walked through town as I did every Wednesday.  I needed to stop at the bank for mama, the grocery store for the bakery, and the library for me.  I said hello to the same friendly faces I saw each morning, answering questions about the latest good book I read or newest flavor of cupcakes in the bakery.

When I turned the corner, the sheriff would be drinking his lemonade.  His son was my age, and Sheriff Morgan was trying to marry him off. He’d tilt his hat and ask me to join him for dinner.  I would agree to think about it as I stepped over the loose cobblestone that would trip up the unexpecting traveler. But Victoria Falls didn’t accommodate many travelers.  The Inn only ever rented rooms to unfaithful husbands.  Maybe once a year, someone traveling through the state would stop at night.  But the barren town usually scared them away before breakfast.

Four rusty trucks would be parked right outside the bank.  The only four parking spots on Main Street.  Three older ladies would be chattering away on the park bench they occupied across the street.  Gossiping.  Always the same stories.  Mr. Macky was cheating on his wife.  She didn’t know.  Had I heard?

I chuckled as I thought about the conversations I was about to have.  I turned the corner, stepping over the loose stone with ease.

“Morning, Sherriff.”

“Janelle,” He said as he tipped his hat.  “Will you be joining us for dinner on Friday?  I’m sure Matthew would be please to see you again.”

“Anything good planned for dinner?”

“Roast beef and potatoes.”  The same as every Friday night.

“Sounds delicious, Sherriff Morgan.  I’ll give it some thought.”  He winked, knowing we’d repeat our conversation again next week.

As I was approaching the bank, several people walked past, animate in conversation.  It was unusual.  The change was unnerving.  I didn’t like it.

A moment later, a truck passed on the road.  The green one that usually parked in the first space in front of the bank.  I stopped, looking around.  Few were on the streets as usual, but they all wore the same expression.  Something was different.

I came to the bank, and where the green truck should have been, sat a slick silver car with dark windows.  The wheels were black, the paint was perfect.  It was a city car, far, far from the city.  Across the street, sitting on the bench, was a man I had never seen before.  Behind him, three very angry older women glared, their expressions showing just how unwelcomed he was to occupy their bench.

The man didn’t notice.

Watching him over my shoulder, I turned into the bank.  The teller and manager were whispering to one another, heads together as they stared out the window.

“Do you know who he is,” the teller asked me.

“Never seen him before,” I responded.  Elsie knew how to handle my transaction without asking and did so while still watching the mystery man across the street.  I thanked her and continued on my way.

The thing about living in a town where nothing changed was the comfort in knowing nothing would change.  When it did, it made me anxious.  My path would take me past the bench with the stranger.  What would I do?  Should I talk to him?  I wasn’t sure.

As I crossed the street, I noticed his featured were distressed.  He wore perfectly pressed clothes of mundane ordinary styles too nice for Victoria Falls; khaki pants and a spotless white button up shirt.  The smudge of dirt across his cheek and a small spot of blood below his breast pocket marred his otherwise perfect appearance.

As I walked by, I tried to ignore him, but his broken spirit called to me.  “Are you alright, sir?”

“Just trying to hide.”

“Victoria Falls is a great place to hide from the world, but not from us.  You kinda stick out in this town.”

He looked up and noticed the appraising faces.  “I had no idea,” he said as he chuckled.  Extending his hand, he announced, “I’m Adam.”

“Janelle.  It’s nice to meet you.”  I said as he closed his hand around mine.  I lowered my voice, as to not be overheard by the older ladies, “You’ve stolen the perch of the town’s gossips, ya know?”

He looked at me tentatively, uncertain how to take my sarcasm.  Noticing my smile, he offered me one that made my heart melt.

“What’s there to do in this in the place other than occupy a bench and gossip all day?”  He asked in mock seriousness.

“Well, I was heading to the library.  You could join me if the bench is too crowded.”

He chucked again as he stood to his feet.  “Ladies,” he said as he turned to the hens cackling behind him.  Offering a deep bow, he said “My sincerest apologies.”

He smiled at me again and followed me down the street towards the library.

There was something about this stranger that comforted me.  And of course that made me anxious.  His perfect appearance and perfect car weren’t right for Victoria Falls, but his jocular attitude and nonchalant demeanor matched those of the towns’ patrons.

Conversation was easy, but I noticed that Adam carefully kept the topic away from him.  That made me curious.  People didn’t often choose Victoria Falls as a hiding place, though it made a good one.  Fit in here, and it will always be a welcoming home.  A safe place.  Upset the town, and it’s not longer friendly.

From the looks Adam received throughout the day, I wondered how long his presence would be accepted.  I heard others speak of him the way they would speak of a rodent in their pantry.  Even when checking in at the Inn, Adam faced hostility.  The people of Victoria Falls were making their opinion known.  Adam was not a welcomed occupant.

The following morning, I continued my routine as I did most Thursday morning.  No trip to the bank today, but the library and the bakery were daily adventures.  The town maintained an ominous feel, one I recognized as a warning that Adam was still a visitor.  It was no surprise when I arrived at the bakery and he was there waiting for me.

He jumped to his feet brandishing a cup of coffee.  A giggle escaped as I accepted his offering.  Venturing, I questioned, “Rough night?”

“I’m not sure I’m welcomed in this town,” he said.

“You’re new.  Give them time.”  It was all I could offer, though I knew the town’s opinion was unlikely to change.

The day progressed as it normally would, save I had fewer customers than normal.  Some people would glance in the front window and scurry away once seeing Adam, but most of my normal customers were nowhere to be seen.  Adam seemed to notice my uneasiness and purchased more muffins than I would normally sell in two days.  It wasn’t my sales that concerned me, though.  It was his alienation and my inability to understand it.

But that didn’t last long.

As I walked Adam back toward the Inn, trying to extend the hospitality I felt the town was lacking, we were accosted by a thick, chilling fog.  My breath instantly turned to ice hanging in the air.  Supernatural ire wafted around us, forcing tears to my eyes.  The fog broke around the shadow of a caped man.  His bare chest seemed unaffected by the cold that cripple me.  He eyes burned into mine, calling me forward.  My muscles responded as my mind shrieked its protest.  No sound parted my lips.

He welcomed my approach with a smile, revealing two sharp fangs.  The sight excited me, quickening my pace to his welcoming arms.  I was entranced by the demon of the night, unaware of anything else.    The screaming in my mind began to fade as I lost all realization of danger.  My mind was numb, my body longing for the mystery of the Vampire’s Kiss.

I brushed my hair over my shoulder, revealing the tender flesh of my neck.  Tilting my head in submission to an unspoken command, I took the final step into the vampire’s embrace.  His arms held me too tightly for comfort as he lowered his mouth to my offering.

The vampire’s breath on my neck melted the numbness that had clouded my thought; panic rose in its place.  My attempts at freedom were useless against the strength of the dark creature and I was seized with terror.  I clenched my eyes together and braced for the pain of the vampire’s bite.

But it never came.

Instead came Adam’s grip around my waist and he pulled me from the clutches of the demon.  Keeping himself between me and the vampire, Adam protected me from the attack.  The two men fought as the fog thickened around us, and again I was left alone and freezing.

A wail shattered the silence and the fog dissipated.  Adam’s voice reached my ears, “Return to them, those who sent you, and tell them Victoria Falls will fight back. The Vampire Assassin will fight with them.”

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Published in: on 06.07.2011 at 9:34 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great job. Looking forward to reading your novella. 🙂

  2. Hello,

    I am never sure if people who ask for appraisals are being sincere and I hope I don’t hurt your feelings.

    -I walked through town as I did every Wednesday. I needed to stop at the bank for mama, the grocery store for the bakery, and the library for me. (This was tough to understand, as it sounded like ‘the bakery’ was a person or there was a typo. I had to stop and reread it several times. I know realized that you intended to say that you were stopping by the grocery, because they had a great bakery.) “As was my routine on Wednesdays, I walked through town, leaving the car at home. Mama liked me to pick her up at the bank, so I could take her to the grocery. She liked the fresh pastries in the bakery. I needed to get to the library, but mama came first.”

    -When I turned the corner, the sheriff would be drinking his lemonade. His son was my age, and Sheriff Morgan was trying to marry him off. He’d tilt his hat and ask me to join him for dinner. (There are several instances of using ‘would’, as you are predicting what will happen, because of the familiarity of the town.) I found it to be uncomfortable reading because of the tense choice. “The sherif liked our little town. Not much changed from day to day, and as I expected, there he sat with his lemonade, as I rounded the corner.”

    – It was a city car, far, far from the city. <Best phrase in the whole piece. Loved it!

    -He smiled at me again and followed me down the street towards the library. (The two 'me' in close proximity to one another isn't great. "He smiled casually; following me to the library."

    -No trip to the bank today, but the library and the bakery were daily adventures. (You have painted the town as being small and having a fondness for routine, this makes the word 'adventures' not fit with the image of routine. I realize it might have been intended to be funny, and it might work in conversation, but the humor doesn't come through in that passage.) "The bank tellers woudn't get to see my smiling face today, but I did make it to the library. The smells from the bakery forced me to stop, I was powerless against their daily cupcakes."

    -“You’ve stolen the perch of the town’s gossips, ya know?”

    He looked at me tentatively, uncertain how to take my sarcasm. Noticing my smile, he offered me one that made my heart melt. (The phrasae in quotes is hard to imagine being sarcastic. Usually sarcasism is in response to someone else's statement. It sounds more like a friendly observation.)

    -The following morning, I continued my routine as I did most Thursday morning. (The second part of the sentence is somewhat redudant, as you said it was part of your routine, thus implying it would be done 'most Thursday mornings'…also 'morning' should be plural)

    -The day progressed as it normally would, save I had fewer customers than normal. (I like using 'save' myself. It is a little awkward here.) "The day was typical in every way, save for the drop in customers"

    The ending was fine.

    I just picked a few of the points that caught my eye. I am sorry for the lenghty comments and again, I hope I didn't hurt your feelings. I am about to publish my 1st of 3 novels. I found several thousand mistakes in my 1st 50K novel, then the editor found more, and the beta readers still found 225 additional mistakes. ( I tend to write wonder, when I mean wander, and seem to be unable to find it when I reread.)

    I hope my observations don't dampen your spirit.

    • Thank you for your comment. I was sincere in my request and no feelings were hurt. I can only improve if people are honest about how they feel. Thanks.

  3. I see a few typos in my response. So what do I know? Writing is hard sometimes, proof reading is hard all the time.


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