I broke a large icicle from the railing and stepped off the porch onto Claiborne Street. A speeding carriage drenched my boots with freezing slush. February was one of the coldest months in New Orleans, but no one had seen ice like this. Although the year was just beginning, 1899 seemed cursed.
I was investigating the city’s eighth murder in two months. Correction: possible murder. A working girl in the District named Peaches. No one had heard from her for days, and the talk in the brothels hinted she was the tragic victim of a jealous lover. But these girls thrive on fantasy. I needed proof.
The interview at her mother’s house revealed nothing. From what I could understand through the thick Haitian accent, the distraught woman hadn’t seen her daughter in nearly a week. A small altar to Baron Samedi sparkled violet with candles as I left.
I crunched along the six blocks to Cirque House where Peaches had a room. The house had one of the worst reputations in the red light district. Not many men I knew had been inside—only those on the force who derived pleasure from the most brutal aspects of our work. The kind that roughed up the girls we arrested or “accidentally” killed a criminal before trial.
But Peaches was the police chief’s favorite. With skin like creamy café au lait that tasted even sweeter, he would tell us. I promised him I’d find out what happened to her.
When I rang the bell at Cirque House, the madam pulled me inside. “Come out of the cold, honey! We’ve got a warm reception in every bedroom.” I tried to explain I wasn’t a customer. But she hushed my protests and said: “Now relax and tell me what you’re after.”
“I’m looking for Peaches,” I began slowly. “Does she still work here?”
“Why of course! I’ll make sure she’s not occupied.” The madam winked and retreated.
As I lounged on the arm of a velvet settee, a tiny gray maid wandered in. I asked if she had noticed anything unusual at the house. She said she only cooked meals for the working girls and cleaned the bedrooms “you know…after.” When I mentioned Peaches, the maid’s eyes showed white and she scurried off without another word.
The madam returned and led me down a draped hallway to a cold, dark room. Heavy perfume stifled me as I entered. A body was lying on the bed. Horrified, I backed out and grabbed the madam.
“Now don’t fidget,” she purred. “Peaches brought in some of our best customers. She had a visitor booked almost every hour the day it happened, so there’s no telling who killed her. Funny thing is, the gentlemen who visited afterwards never complained. Must have been an irresistible temptation. And who am I to judge a man’s soul if their money’s good?”
She stared hard at me. “So you going to have a turn or aren’t you? Her next guest is waiting.”
FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words). So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
I knew a man who owned 150 items. One hundred of them were books. He was extremely specific about this number. Two plates, two bowls, one pot, one pan. One squeeze bottle of liquid soap he used for the counters, the clothes, his remaining hair. One Bobby Goldsboro record, but no turntable. He said one of the songs, Honey, had always moved him.
When his dog passed away, he replaced it. A plant; why didn’t I say plant? Although it is true about his dog.
I had the idea he was spiritual and wise. He was old. His sparseness was a turn-on. And the red rug on the floor beside his bed, so pleasing. I pleased him when I knelt on it. His framed, black-inked Eye of Horus lent the place a tang of the mystic.
It lasted seven weeks. One evening, I thought I’d pitch in and empty the garbage. He was out, walking the replacement dog. The bag was surprisingly full. I clocked the contents: the detritus of fast food wolfed when I was at work, eight squishy condoms (curtsy), and much-thumbed porn mag feat…
Day 1: Beginnings and Endings
Welcome to the FlashFlood Advent Calendar! Today we bring you the first of twenty-five days of flashy prompts, so it's fitting that we're thinking about beginnings....
You know those amazing first lines, the ones that grab you by the throat and don't let go of you until you've read the rest of the story (and even then they linger)? Things like:
“The road is covered in ghost.”—Jane Monson, 'The Unmended',Speaking Without Tongues“Those who don't know any better come into our neighborhood scared.” —Sandra Cisneros, 'Those Who Don't', The House on Mango Street“Peony has whiskers; she has a pointy face and a tail made out of blue
raffia; she's messing about in boats and dabbling-up-tails-all, and I am
in love.” —C.G. Menon, 'Watermelon Seeds',Love Across A Broken Map: Short Stories from The Whole Kahani“To lift yourself out of a miserable mood, even if you have to do it by strength of will, should be eas…
Flash Flood is OPEN for submissions until Thursday 9 May 2019 at 23:59 BST (22:59 UTC)
The aim is simple: wherever you are in the world, we want your best
flash fictions. The word limit is 500 words, but that's the only rule.
Any subject, any genre, any style, any perspective, anything as long as
Our guidelines have changed this year, so please have a read over our submission guidelines before you send your work. If you'd like, you can also read about this year's editors.
We look forward to reading your words!