My writing-self felt a little creaky and stiff this week, so I entered Indies Unlimited‘s weekly flash fiction contest. A new prompt goes up every Saturday, and it’s a great chance to play around with the 250-word challenge and bust up a few of those mental cobwebs.
In fact, this flash fiction contest is so cool that IU’s masterminds Stephen Hise and KS Brooks took all of last year’s winning pieces and published them in an anthology. So many great little stories in one place; some of my friends like Ed Drury, Rich Meyer, JD Mader, and David Antrobus were multiple winners. I think I even have one in there somewhere about a rainy night and an angry little white dog.
Anyway, here’s this week’s entry. It’s not in the 2012 anthology, but if it wins this week (voting starts on Wednesday), it will be in next year’s!
Mike sneezed as the cloud of patchouli incense assaulted his sinuses. “Hello?” He fished a tissue out of his pocket. “You advertised for a groomer?”
An old dude with a gray ponytail and a Warren Zevon T-shirt popped out from the back, drying his hands on a towel. “Namaste,” he growled. “Sorry about the ambiance. It’s the only thing that covers up the wet dog smell. Keeps the neighbors from complaining. It’s not gonna be a problem, is it?”
Mike shook his head and sneezed again.
“Most people get used to it.” The guy eyeballed him, one brow climbing his forehead. “No offense, brother, but you look kind of puny for this work. Some of these critters pack serious poundage.”
“I had a bunch of Irish wolfhounds at my last gig,” Mike said.
“Wolfhounds. Funny.” Crooking a hand, he gestured for Mike to follow him into the back. “They can smell fear. So be cool.”
“Be cool?” Mike said. “I love dogs.”
The dude smirked as he pulled back the curtain. “Just remember that.”
Mike gaped. There was a big tub. And one giant cage. Eight hounds paced a restless loop, softly whimpering. Their variegated coats blended and swirled as they moved under the dim lights.
“They like to stay together. Pack animals.” He turned to Mike. “So when can you start?”
One hound bared a glistening fang. “Uh, right away?”
“Groovy. We’d better hurry, though.” In the shadows, the dude’s eyes seemed to glow. “There’s a full moon tonight.”