For the past two weeks, you've delighted us with your flash fiction pieces about dead (and undead) giants and disembodied brains that surf the web. This week, your inspiration is a bit of otherworldly car trouble. As always, post your story in the comments.
Each week, we're posting a piece of speculative artwork to get your creative juices flowing. If you're inspired, write a piece of flash fiction based on the picture and post it in the comments. This week's piece, aptly titled "What have I driven into?", is by Mateusz Kolek, via mashKULTURE.
Priscilla's mother called it the Planet of Misfit Toys, and tonight Priscilla was willing to concede that she might be right. Most nights, Priscilla loved the way the fog, the way it tickled her nostrils and smelled like sparkling cider. That was why she'd bought the convertible, after all. But the cloud cover in the Rehobeth microclimate made satellite navigation spotty, and she had never been invited to Count Asma's manor before.
She'd heard stories, of course, from the girls in her Volunteer Corps unit. Rebecca-Anne Jacobs flashed teeth as white as her Terran pearls when she described his climate-controlled floral gallery, and the centerpiece, Nude Riding an Allosaurus, managed by the famed Ionian landscaper Kent St. Claire. Alberta Pierce purred into her cloned ocelot muff at the thought of his zero-G pool and the water-attracting swimsuits. "Of course, it would be so improved if we could swim au naturel," she cackled as the tips of Priscilla's ears turned pink. Dolores Pelt squealed that she'd tasted a 2346 Chateau Bronson Ceresian Moscato from the count's private cellar, under the pulse-lifting lights of his specially bred fungal chandeliers (which ate a steady diet of organic coffee grounds supplied by the space station Maenad). But when Priscilla received the engraved invitation, with the metallic white ink that sent a spark of dopamine through her body any time she traced the lettering, it was her maiden aunt Helkin she turned to for advice.
Priscilla found Aunt Helkin in the tidy office inside the carriage house. Priscilla's mother spoke of Helkin's living situation with only the tightest of pursed lips, muttering that if Helkin couldn't be bothered to find herself a husband, the least she could do was live in the main house, like a civilized woman of means. But Priscilla's father would shake his head and laugh, lamenting that Helkin would do as she pleased, and if she wasn't permitted to live in the carriage house, Helkin would surely look for an apartment in town. Well, that certainly shut Priscilla's mother up, but not before an unbecoming harumph escaped from her throat.
Priscilla slipped the invitation onto Helkin's desk without a word, prompting the older woman to stare up at her over her cat's eye glasses. The corner of one red lip scrunched into a smirk, and Helkin clasped her gloved hands together. "You want to know if he'll leave your honor intact?" she asked.
Suddenly, Priscilla felt like she was back beneath Alberta Pierce's knowing gaze. "I just thought…that you might…" she stammered. Aunt Helkin served on the board of the Exoplanetary Arts Council with Count Asma, and Priscilla wondered what they did alone in his home while her mother tsked and twittered to her meritball club.
Helkin held up a hand, and Priscilla knew that a microscopic pattern of lights was flashing a brain-calming signal from the palm. "Don't fret, little lamb," Helkin said. "The Count has no need to gobble up little girls. Still," she laid a hand on Priscilla's arm, and Priscilla nearly shuddered at the unexpected contact, "I'm not sure you're ready."
Priscilla's shoulder blades knit together. "For what?"
"To have fun."
Maybe, Priscilla reflected as she abandoned the car and stepped out into the field of gelatinous tentacles, she had done this on purpose. Perhaps, subconsciously, she had misread the map Aunt Helkin had given her and landed her car into this gear-clogging meadow of pink to avoid the paintings and the swimming, and the thrumming and throbbing of the fungal lights. To avoid being another girl cooing over the Count while raising prefab units in the homesteaders' district.
But just as one of the tendrils constricted around her ankle, Priscilla noticed that the apple cider air took on the sudden countenance of champagne, and she quietly prayed that this was all just part of the fun.