The Ogre in the Bar [Flash Fiction]

Brad knew he was drunk because the ogre across from him was buying another round.
“Listen,” said the ogre. “I’m telling you, man, Shrek was the worst thing that ever happened to us. I mean, sure, now everyone loves ogres, right? But the problem is now we got standards. Before that blasted movie it was pretty much do-what-you-want, you know? No ogre told another ogre how to set up his swamp. Now, though, now we all gotta look kind of humble and be bad-tempered but not too much, and a lot of us have even started buying donkeys and turning their places into tourist attractions, and that’s just selling out as far as I’m concerned.”
“Yeah,” said Brad. “Yeah, that’s right.” He took a long sip of his sixth – or maybe eighth – glass of beer. “Tell me, friend,” he slurred, peering shortsightedly over the tops of his glasses, trying not to see the ogre too clearly. “How you got money to buy me all these drinks? Do ogres have jobs?”
The ogre looked offended. “‘Course we do! What do you think, we just loaf around all day making bubbles in mud-baths? See, that’s another thing, Shrek’s this layabout bum who doesn’t do nothing, and now people think we’re all like that.”
“What do you do, then?”
“Construction, mostly. Got the natural muscles for it. Sometimes I get a shift or two as a bouncer. But some of us have gone to school, you know, gotten an education, used brains instead of brawn and all that.”
“That’s great,” Brad said. He clicked his fingers at the waitress, who shot him an angry glance. “I think I’ll get the tab, man. I’m pretty beat.”
“Sure, sure, whatever you want. If you’re around tomorrow come by to chat. I’m here almost every night after work.”
Brad nodded vaguely. When he got home and climbed into bed, he thought about the ogre’s offer to hang out again. He had a feeling, though, that he would never to go to any bar on that side of town ever again.

Flash Fiction Thursday: Just a Box

There’s a cardboard box lying on the floor. That’s all, just a box, taped together at the bottom and top, no bigger than a six-pack. Why am I thinking of beer? Oh, yeah, it’s because I’m holding one. Fancy that. I look at the bottle, then look through it to the box on the floor. The empty room takes on a tinge of green. I stop looking and take a long, fulfilling gulp. Oh, dear. Now the bottle’s empty. Might as well smash it as hard as I can against the wall.

It doesn’t shatter or anything. Damn. Even the damn bottle doesn’t do what I want it to do. I want it to smash, to crash, to splinter. I want it to make a noise in this too-quiet room. It’s much to quiet in here. It’s creepy, like she left a damn ghost here or something. I look hopefully around again, almost wishing I’d see her body swinging. But no, the room’s just as empty as it was when I got back from the train-station earlier today. That damn box is still on the floor.

I try to recall the past months, but I’m finding it kind of hard to concentrate. Guess the barman was right for telling me to quit it and go home. It’s not even nine, and the idiot told me he wasn’t going to serve me anymore. I told him where to put his head and went and bought a beer and started walking home. When I ran out of one, I bought another. That one, the one I threw, is the fourth. What? It was a damn long walk home. I needed the fluids, or the sustenance, or something.

Truth is, I just needed something to fill up the ache. I thought that maybe, just maybe, when I got home I’d find all her stuff back here. I’m home now, or what I used to call home, and she’s still gone. So’s her sofa, and TV, and her clothes and her dishes and everything else. I can still smell her here, though, even through the stink of beer coming from my own mouth.

And that damn box is still there on the floor. Is that all that was mine in here? Or did she leave me some stupid long letter about meeting the stud-muffin of her life and leaving with him? I don’t know. I collapse on the floor, the room suddenly spinning worse. I decide that whatever’s in there, it can’t hurt more than what I’m feeling right now. So I let myself drift away, knowing that the box and a headache will be waiting for me tomorrow.

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Popular Haunt

Every small city has to have at least one spooky place. We have ours, alright. Oh yes, we do. As girls, me and a couple of my friends actually went into the single abandoned and, of course, reputedly haunted house. We’re alive to tell the tale, amazing as it sounds.

The house is truly creepy. It is set back from the street, and you have to climb a long set of winding, falling apart, stone stairs that are cut right into the wall of boulders that the house sits on. The stairs are overgrown with weeds, stinging plants and thorns a necessity. When you reach the top of the steps, there is a locked gate, and climbing over it is quite painful, the plants getting in the way constantly, and the gate is so rusty that your hands come away caked in brown metal shavings.

Then there is the house itself. The story goes that the architect – or sculptor? – that lived there just moved away and left the house to decay and no one knows why he didn’t sell it, because it’s big. The creepy thing is, it used to be rather clean inside. The house is completely empty, and is very like a maze – there are two separate wings to it, and the only way to get from one to the other is by crossing through the balcony. The tap in the kitchen is rusted shut, and the doors are all gone or creaking slowly in the wind that moves through the house. There is even a loft, its stairs mysteriously gone, and no way to get up there.

My friends and I sneaked in there a few times when we were younger – even at night once or twice. Sadly, over the years it has become less spooky and much more a place for teenage drunkards to crash. It is now full of people’s exceretians, spray paint and even a couch someone had the strength to drag up there, and it has pentagrams and funny drunken messages painted on the walls. The creep factor is there, but now it is more “Ew, it stinks and some drunk guy will attack me” rather than “Oh god, oh god, I swear this place is haunted, I swear, I swear!”