A crowd of nicely attired men and women in space helmets are standing out on a city street in this week's writing prompt. Are they explorers from another world? Astronauts returning to a long-dead Earth? Or just ordinary folks trying not to breathe in the air?
Each Saturday, we post a piece of artwork and ask you to write a piece of flash fiction based on that artwork. How your piece relates to the image is up to you — use it as a jumping off point to get those creative juices flowing. This piece comes from Alec Huxley, and it's titled "Exactly as I Remember." Found via Geyser of Awesome.
Here's my story based on this week's artwork. Please post yours in the comments:
Harriet pushed her hot mouth against the glass of Vivek's helmet, fogging up the visor. "You going to stay in there all night?" she asked, and even though her voice was filtered though his earbuds, her purr pricked up all the hairs on his neck.
Vivek laced his fingers with hers. It was strange to touch her hands when the helmet sat between them, like he was almost there with her, but not quite. "I've never breathed the air out here."
She tapped his visor, as if bopping him on the nose. "Of course, you haven't," she said. "You wouldn't be wearing that thing if you had." In fact, Vivek had never set foot in the blighted zone. Some of his classmates had been going to helmet parties since third form, when Francesca Ly pulled off her helmet and went from risk taker to daredevil. The girl who scraped her knees climbing trees in the arboretum was now spending her nights shimmying up the scaffolding of construction projects. When Herod Muntz, the architect who designed "The Constellation" learned that Francesca was treating his post-modern sukkah as a set of monkey bars, he followed her up and photographed her. For a week, she was the most famous girl in the city, and parents started locking up their teenagers at night. His friends snuck Somnafer into their parents' teas or signed out for after-school projects, and wandered through the blighted zone, flirting with the idea of lifting off their visors. Vivek dutifully stayed inside, breathing unadulterated air.
Harriet turned to Kiki, pulling on the scarf Kiki tied around the base of her helmet. "What do you say, Kiki? Want to take that helmet off? Want to see what you can really do?"
Vivek looked back at Kiki. Her fists were tiny balls, so tight that he knuckles had gone white. Kiki was an artist. Vivek loved to sit behind her in class and watch her turn her tablet into a sprawling landscape where girls with purple hair battled unicorns and ate dragon hearts. Would the blight turn her heroes into monsters? Would they compel her to decorate the walls of her apartment complex with unblinking eyeballs and skeletons sporting dripping erections?
Harriet thrummed her fingers down Kiki's side. Kiki shook her head. "What if I can't control it?" she whispered.
Harriet grinned, her teeth flashing white in the street lights. "There's nothing for you to control," she said. "It just means that no one — nothing — can control you."
All was still for a beat as a thought popped unbidden into Vivek's head: run. He had expected a sales pitch, but as he watched Harriet's hands tug at Kiki's scarf, looking as though she might work it under the airtight seal, Vivek's legs began to quiver. He realized he was standing at the edge of a precipice, that in half a heartbeat, his decision would be made.
Then Kiki ran. She fled down the block, her fawn legs trembling in her high heels. Her scarf slipped from her neck, a ribbon of red in Harriet's hands. Kiki was three street lamps away before Harriet looked down at the scarf and clucked her tongue. Then, calm as could be, she squatted to the street and picked up a stone. She stepped one foot forward, wound up, and pitched. The stone struck Kiki in the back, and she crumpled onto the ground. Harriet took off a shoe, and for the first time, Vivek noticed the steel spike in the heel. Harriet hobbled toward Kiki, shoe raised in the air.
Vivek took a step forward, but already the sound of breaking glass rang out in the darkness. He turned around just in time to see the bat that would crack his own visor open.