Hey, here’s the latest part in Disassembly Required, my newest story for Wednesday Briefs, the weekly flash fiction challenge! In the previous part, which you can read here, our good ladies Beatriz and Allen were in a creepy diner, exploring the kitchen, when the lights went out. Will they find the light? Will Allen get her tuna sandwich? Is Beatriz allergic to capers? At least one of these questions will be answered, maybe, kind of, in this latest installment. I hope you like it!
Disassembly Required, part 3/?. Prompts used: weird machine.
Beatriz stepped forward, into the darkness. She reached out for a physical anchor, a counter or a cutting board, or even the fabric of Allen’s jacket sleeve, but found nothing. Her eyes registered nothing but black.
“Allen?” As soon as she spoke, Beatriz knew she would not be heard. The oppressive lack of light seemed to swallow up her words the second they left her lips, swaddled them up and muted them for good.
Another step. She hit something with her hip. Maybe a corner, but she didn’t know of what. Beatriz involuntarily screwed her face up to stop from shouting at the sharp pain now shooting through her leg. At least the thump of her body making contact seemed to travel outward, because it was answered with a quiet “Beatriz?” from the other side of the darkness.
“I’m here,” Beatriz said uselessly. Her voice still refused to carry. Her fingers crept out until they reached what might be a counter top. She slowly splayed her fingers until her palms were safely on bare counter space, not touching any dangerous items commonly found in industrial kitchens. Nothing that could be waiting to hurt her and make her bleed. She imagined meat cleavers and paring knives and huge hatchets improperly lying out on the counter, just looking for a reason to cut into her blindly groping grasp.
Allen’s voice cut through Beatriz’s anxious mental fog. She had to keep moving. The images of sharp things melted away, replaced by the need to find her assistant and get the hell out of there and back to the car.
“I’m coming,” she said, and her voice came out in a whisper with all the strength of a balloon being deflated. She kept her hands on the counter as she moved in the direction of Allen—and when did Allen move so far away, anyway?
The distance between them seemed to have shifted a hundred yards as soon as the lights went out. Regardless, Beatriz kept moving, ears attuned to any noises that might signal where in the kitchen Allen was.
What she heard was crackling, similar to the crack before the light went out. She gripped the counter tighter, waiting for something else to pop and fizzle out. She turned her head. The lights crackled and flickered on briefly, long enough to see Allen being dragged out the back door, a shadow-draped arm wrapped around her waist. Allen’s face was frozen in an open, silent scream for help.
Beatriz ran. She hit the open door of a floor-level cabinet and slammed into the floor as the lights cut out again, landing on her bad leg. She howled and bit her lip. She was in the darkness again. Only then did she hear the scream.
She scrambled to get to her feet and rushed toward where she’d last seen Allen. “Allen! Wait!” Her hand slid across the counter as she ran. She hit the handle of something heavy and blunt, and grabbed it without pausing. It felt like a metal skillet.
Beatriz wondered how damn big this kitchen was, and how long she’d been trying to reach the same point, when she hit a wall. The floor under her buckled and she fell to one knee. With her free hand, she reached out and felt a door frame. She reached higher and felt the knob, and pulled on it hard. It wouldn’t budge. She kept pulling until the frame, and her arm, shook.
Something in the frame loudly popped, and the door shuddered wide open. Beatriz stumbled out into the open air. Her feet crunched as she stepped into dew-covered grass. The fog hung low in heavy clumps across the back lawn of Frank’s Dining.
She could see her car in the parking lot, sitting alone. She could see the highway faintly disappearing into the horizon. She could not see Allen, or whoever had taken her.
Back to the car. Regroup and regather, and figure out what the hell’s going on and where is Allen, where could she be, oh my god I’ve lost her. Beatriz didn’t even realize she’d been walking until she found herself at the driver’s side of the car. The skillet felt like a comical prop in her hand, but she still held onto it.
Her eyes drifted to the machine in the back seat, and all of its various wires and nodes and screens.
“We just wanted to go home,” she said. Her hands turned into fists. “We just wanted to go home!”
The back seat of the car glowed green. The machine had turned itself on. It beeped once, then twice, and then for a moment the world turned into a canvas of white light. It was so bright it hurt to look at. Beatriz closed her eyes. The light finally dimmed.
When she opened her eyes, she was somewhere else.
Here are the other bloggers flashing this week: