I’m gonna blame the homework for this one. Yup. Because Accounting and Statistics should never be taken together. Or online. Or online together.
Which is what I’m doing.
And. It. Is. PAINFUL.
Anywhoo over at terribleminds, Uncle Chuck has put up a new flash fiction challenge. This one has us using ten random words.
These are the words:
And this is how I used them*.
AFTER THE ATOM
He sails above the clouds in his P-40. There are Japanese behind him, shooting, bullets ripping through the clouds, feathering and quickly dissolving them into nothing. There are two of them. Two he can see. His fingers find a well-loved picture stuck in a broken bit of glass protecting his fuel gauge from wear and tear.
“On your left! On your left!”
BRAAAAAAAAAAAT RAT A TAT TAT
Another dodge. Another deceit. Let them bastard Japs think they got you on edge. Reel ’em in then let ’em have it.
BRAAAAAAAAAAAT RAT A TAT TAT
“Hit! Hit! May day! May day! I’m going down! Going down!”
He looks to his left. One of his wing men, Lieutenant Ferguson (funny name for a guy from Nebraska) goes careening in a wide spin. His plane (Jerry Sue) tumbles ass over nose in a hail of fire and brimstone.
Jesus H.G. Wells. He watches the Jerry Sue explode.
“Shit! Shit! Larry!” He cries through his radio, knowing the other man can’t hear him. “Larry! Dammit, talk to me!”
A speck of white, it looks like a balloon falling softly in the distance. He tells himself that Larry made it out okay even as he keeps screaming into the radio.
BRAAAAAAAAAAT RAT A TAT TAT
“Fuck Larry!” Another, panicked voice comes over the wire, interrupting the stream of screams and pleas, “You got bogeys on your right! Three coming in! Move your ass, Clay or you’ll be joining Larry in Hell!”
BRAAAAAAAAAAT RAT A TAT TAT
A new voice comes over the wire, this one just as scared and not hiding it well.
“American Scum!” Probably the only words they know in English.
BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT RAT A TAT TAT
A torrent of bullets rains around Clay and his plane the Lucky Star. He manoeuvres the best he can, trying to dodge the tiny projectiles and worrying he can’t. They penetrate a thick cloud in front of him, giving him an idea. It’s not much of one, but it’s worked before.
She stands in front of him, naked except for the sheet loosely wrapped around her shoulders.
“Willow,” a voice calls softly from the bed. “Willow, come back to bed.”
“Do you think he’s coming back?” She asks, closing her eyes against the summer breeze coming through the open window. “What if he does?”
“We’ll deal with it then,” he says.
“We can’t do that,” she insists, “what if he comes back? What will we do then?”
“Do you still love him?”
She swallows the hard lump in her throat. She doesn’t really know any more. She’s loved Clay since they were neighbours growing up in the Hawaiian suburbs. But, when the attacks on Pearl Harbor happened, Clay changed. Suddenly, he wasn’t talking about their wedding plans at the Grand Canyon. He was talking about the Army Air Corps. He was talking about enlisting, and flying, and about how she should join the Nursing Corp. She recoiled at the idea. The idea of going off to war, in any capacity, did not appeal to her and the ideas she had for a house and a family. She begged Clay not to go, pleaded with him and his family to keep him home. She had made a right fool of herself in front of God and everyone she knew to keep the man she thought she loved with her. Home and safe.
“He doesn’t even write to me,” she says, uncaring whether or not the man in her bed is listening to her. “He used to write to me every day.” She doesn’t know why she says this, she just does. There is no hint of emotion behind her voice, nothing to make the listener think that she cares. “Do you think he’s dead?” She turns her head to look at him.
He looks back at her, naked from the waist up. His name is Jeremy. He is stationed with the USS ALABAMA, on shore leave for medical reasons that are enourmously apparent. He is disfigured from the neck down where a pieces of metal (shrapnel, he called them) from the ship’s hull lodged themselves into his skin. He looks back at her with sad, brown eyes.
“You would know if he was,” he says. There is emotion behind his voice. He loves the girl in front of him. He wants the same thing she does. He won’t go back to sea, the Navy has already discharged him. His wounds go beyond his chest. Right down to his missing left leg. He wants a family. He wants a home. He wants someone to take care of him. He needs Clay to have a funeral to make that happen.
He hates himself for thinking this way.
White, puffy clouds, like poofs of cotton candy, captivate him for only the briefest of minutes. They are gone quickly, and the sky opens up. Blue above, hell below. Clay’s eyes widen. Everything goes quiet. He can’t even hear the bullets raining death to his fuel tank. He feels, rather than hears the explosion behind him. He never hears the radio. He has a bad habit of breaking contact when he’s playing catch-the-mouse. A habit they warned him about in flight school.
In front of him is the Bessie that brought the bomb. The atomic bomb. And he is flying too low to pull up in time. As if in a dream, he sees the Big Boy fall toward Hiroshima.
There is a white light.
And then there is nothing.
Willow smiles at him, putting her hand on top of his, third finger of her left hand extended. Jeremy slides the small silver band on it.
“You may kiss the bride.”
He bends toward her. She hesitates for only a minute before kissing him back.
“I now pronounce you man and wife.”
A cheer goes up in the church. It’s not her Grand Canyon wedding, but then again, the man in front of her isn’t Clay.
And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
*I make no excuses for the historical innacuracy of any of this story.