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Flash FictionAs promised last week, here’s the follow-up to last year’s Back in Black. I can’t say much about the story, though, because the fun of it is in figuring out what’s going on. If you haven’t read Back in Black yet, do that now. Skipping it will mean you have no idea what’s going on in the story below.

Plus, I’m asking nicely. Do be kind.

I don’t write a lot of stories like these, playing with subtle references to meaningful metaphors. Maybe that’s why I get such a kick out of doing it when I do. It’s more like a game than anything else. I’m seriously considering making it an annual thing. It might be entertaining to follow the decline of Black Friday in fiction. (And that, my friend, is as much of a hint as you’re going to get.)

If you have feedback, as always, hit me up with a comment below. Compliments and criticism are both welcome. Now, on to the story.

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“The night before Thanksgiving is the biggest bar night of the year.” Two said. “I mean, tonight’s a good night, but Wednesday was epic. Did you know that?”

“You may have mentioned it,” his companion said. One was sitting next to him at a table near enough to the bar to be convenient without being in the middle of the swarm.

Even if it was two nights too late to be the biggest night of the year, the bar was still crowded. Patrons ran the gambit, from young, dumb and full of cum to the middle-aged and older. They were flirting. They were dancing. They were sitting in dense clouds of smoke in the corners. And they were drinking. They were drinking a lot.

“It was a fun night,” he said.

“I bet.”

He shrugged. “But tonight’s good, too.”

“Mmhmm.”

They sipped their drinks. Both were buzzed, but and they would stay that way for the majority of the evening. One might or might not achieve a greater degree of inebriation before it was all over. That depended entirely on whether or not she could get lucky. Odds are, she would. Two, on the other hand, was destined to get good and hammered, staggering home in a drunken stupor so severe it would kill the average alcoholic. The beautiful part was he wouldn’t even suffer a hangover the next day.

He looked around the bar, admiring his own handy work. Not that it it had taken much effort. It’s pretty easy to lead a horse to water when it wants to drink. Two was staring down a guy at the next table.

“I don’t think he’s into you,” Two said.

With a frown, she agreed. “I think I’m taking the wrong approach. Save my seat. I’ll be right back.”

She shuffled off in the direction of the bathrooms, ducking and weaving her way through the crowd. A couple of minutes later, a slender guy in his older twenties took her seat. Two smiled.

“Ah, so that’s the hang up.”

“I think so,” One said, now with a male voice. “We’ll see if this yields better results.” She leaned back in her chair with an air of indifference. It made her look like a douche bag, but an attractive one.

It used to freak Two out when she did her gender-swap thing. Then he went through a period of intense curiosity. What must it be like to snap your fingers and turn from he to she? When he told her he was wondering, she promptly offered to show him. After assurance she wouldn’t do anything to embarrass, trap or harm him, he agreed.

The change itself hadn’t felt like anything, but when he looked in the mirror he saw a female version of himself staring back. That was weird enough, and then he tried to walk. His center of gravity had moved, and he staggered in his first few steps. That had been a fun night, culminating in the two of them sharing a bed. While he enjoyed it very much, he hadn’t asked to revisit it.

She made it look easy, though, going from vixen to virile male effortlessly. She took a lazy swig from the half full glass in front of her and smiled at her prey.

That’s what this is, Two thought. A hunt. But he didn’t say anything. After all, he was wearing an orange vest, himself.

Instead, he flagged down the nearest passing waitress–somehow they always saw him–and ordered another round. Then he thought about Five, easily the most epic asshole he’d ever met, and Three and Six. They hadn’t been as cocky during this year’s prep meeting. Things were changing, the tides once more turning in his favor, and he wondered what they were up to at that very moment.

Allowing himself a brief period of self-satisfaction, he indulged a fantasy. What if they were at a bar, very much like this one, knocking back drinks, complaining to each other, already talking about the good old days when folks cut family time short and went to bed early so they could wake well before dawn to go stand in line? What if, without even thinking about the delicious irony, they were giving themselves over to him at that very moment?

He imagined the scene. Five would most likely be slumped over an unnecessarily clunky beer mug, so pissed off that he couldn’t even speak. Beside him, Three and Six, the brother and sister, would be gossiping with each other over some variation of appletinis, their gestures tight and quick. That’s how they got when they were upset. When they lost.

And they had lost. They’d pushed things too far. People were beginning to see the day for what it had become, and the predominant attitude was, “Fuck that. I’d rather eat a shit ton of turkey and watch the game.” In a few years, there might not even be any sales. Two had won, and all he had to do was wait out the predictable yo-yo pattern of human nature.

When he snapped out of his fantasy, he realized One was no longer next to him. She’d made her way to the neighboring table where she was sharing a laugh with her mark. He seemed in favor of her makeover. Two had to give it to her. One was good.

He felt a tap on his shoulder. He didn’t even have to turn and look, though. Instead, he motioned to the now empty chair. Seven took a seat.

As always, Seven was immaculately dressed. His expression was confident without being smug. He looked like somebody’s rich uncle, a distant figure looming in the wings. Of course, that’s what he was. Always nearby, waiting for moments just like this one. Two had practically summoned him.

“You have every right to enjoy it,” Seven said.

Two thought about that for a moment. Five would be irate if he were here, screaming about honor among thieves or some such shit.

“Do I look like I’m not enjoying it?” Two asked.

“Not as as much as you could be. The day is yours. Drink. Dance. Fuck. Do whatever you like. The others won’t interfere. I’ve seen to it.”

Two smiled in spite of himself. He knew what was happening, but he didn’t care. The day wasn’t his. It was Seven’s. It was always Seven’s, no matter which of the other six managed to win out for second place. That was Seven’s way. But did it matter? Even if he couldn’t take the top spot, he was riding higher than Five, Three or Six. That was worth something right there. He could live with that.

“You’re smarter than they realize,” Seven said as thought reading his mind. Hell, maybe he was. It would explain a lot.

“You want something to drink?” Two asked.

Seven laughed. “I’m smarter, too,” he said. Then with a flourish he stood, nodded, and left.

When Two turned to look for One, she was gone, as was the guy she’d been wooing. Back to his place, maybe, or even to the bathroom. That girl didn’t care. As long as they consummated. And maybe that was all that mattered. Not besting his rivals, but reveling in his own nature.

He slammed what was left of his drink and ordered, not one, but two more. It was time to get down to business. It was time to get drunk.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

3 Responses to fade to black

  1. I’ll have to catch up on more of your flash fiction pieces! 🙂 This one was a good read. Very intriguing way to make a scene at a bar come to life.

    Liked by 1 person

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