Another flash fiction challenged by Chuck Wendig on his blog, terribleminds. The random plot generated for me was: The story starts when your protagonist pretends to be sick. Another character is a bartender who has engineered a deadly disease.
My story based on this prompt is called “Bliss.” It’s darker than most things I’ve written, but I hope you enjoy it!
Hey boss, it’s Gary. Listen, I’m not going to be able to come in today… Yeah, I’ve been puking all morning, and I just don’t want to spread anything to you guys at the office.
He hung up and got back in bed. Bliss. Three more hours of it.
At twelve he got up, fished a pair of pants out of his hamper, and left through the back door. He had never liked his front door. It was too expected.
He wandered the streets for a while, stopping for an hour in a park to sit and think about nothing in particular. The complexities of life rushed by, just out of his mind’s reach. It was long ago that he severed that connection. It was too expected. He would rather think about the mundane. Why can’t I remember learning how to tie my shoes? That seemed important.
Three o’clock found him in a pub, his second pint tasting worse than the first. He switched to liquor. Were the looks from the barman judgmental or curious? They all turn out the same in the end.
He asked the barman if he remembered learning how to tie his shoes. He wasn’t drunk. The barman answered with another question. Why are you wearing a dress shirt, tie, shorts, and sandals?
At five-thirty, a man passing by on the street glanced inside the pub, and pulled out his phone.
Hey boss, it’s Paul. Listen, I’ve just seen Gary in a pub on High Street. Yeah, I’ll go in and talk to him.
Lenny asked him why he was in the pub. He asked Lenny why he was in the pub too. Lenny wanted to know where he’d been for the last four days. That’s a long time to miss work, you know.
Lenny went home, and Gary talked to the barman again. He normally didn’t like the people that thought about complexities, but this man behind the bar seemed to have his bearings all right. After a long pause in conversation, he looked at Gary with the same look from before.
I have a bottle of something you might be interested in. I do a little chemistry on my own time, in the back room. I think it might be just what you’re looking for.
How do you know what I’m looking for?
I know what men like you are looking for.
What does it do?
What would you like it to do?
Then it does everything.
Gary took the bottle home. He called Sarah on the way, explaining to her that he was too sick to make it to dinner tonight. She told him the reservation was for seven o’clock anyway, so it didn’t matter.
He made it through his back door at ten o’clock, and sat down with his new bottle. Tiny things were moving through the liquid inside. He smiled at them.
A knock came from his least favorite door a few moments later. It was Sarah. In the road behind her, he saw his boss’ car pull alongside the curb. They were worried about him. He told them they should wait outside, and that he would be back in a second.
The bottle was cool against his lips, but he felt an overwhelming warmth an instant later.
He walked back to the door, where his two would-be guests stood. They looked worried, and said he looked absolutely awful. They offered help, a ride to the hospital, anything.
It’s all so simple, Gary said, and died.
The man and the woman were on the doorstep. One of them spoke.
I guess he really was sick.