Flash Fiction: The Devil’s in the Details

Story created in response to Zachary Pettit’s writing prompt “Full Disclosure” found in his Promptly blog post: What do you want to see in Writer’s Digest?, 4 May 2011.

The Devil’s in the Details (word count: 480)

They toured the house with the real-estate agent.

“We love it,” he said. “Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?”

The agent looked down.

“That can’t be a good thing,” the husband whispered to his wife.

She looked at the agent staring at her shoes and quietly replied, “I’m sure it’s nothing. Why would she bring us here if something horrible had happened?”

“Nothing has happened in this house…” the real estate agent began.

“See, honey… I told you,” she cut in.

“…BUT,” continued the agent, looking at the husband, “you’re going to die here.”

The couple looked at each other, then back at the agent, mouths working soundlessly.

“Yes, you heard me correctly,” she said, then smiled.

The wife gaped at the real estate agent for a few seconds, the husband’s brow furrowed.

“Oh! I get it,” the wife said, turning to her husband.  “She means we’re going to buy the house and live out our lives here.” Looking back at the agent, she said “Whew!  You really had us going there for a second.”

“I hope you aren’t upset. I can just tell how much you both like it,” the real estate agent replied.

“Like it?  It’s perfect!” gushed the wife.  “Look at the view from this loft.  And at this price, it’s almost like my prayers have been answered.”

“Honey,” interrupted the husband.  “Can I talk to you for a second?” he asked, drawing her to a corner away from the agent.

“What’s wrong?” asked the wife.

“I’m not exactly sure, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this.  It’s too perfect.  And what she said…”

“It was a joke, dear,” the wife replied.  “An awkward one, but just a joke.  Everything is going to be all right.  We’re going to be happy here.”

“I don’t know.  I think we should go home and think about it.”

“What’s there to think about?” she contested.  “It’s everything we’ve been looking for and for less than we were willing to pay.”

“That’s kind of what I mean,” he said, glancing over at the smiling real estate agent.  “You know what they say about if something seems too good.”

“Yes, I know what they say and here’s what I have to say… go over there and sign the papers or I’m leaving you!”

Shocked, the husband hung his head, sighed, walked over to the real estate agent and signed the papers.

“It’s okay,” the she whispered to him as he turned toward the stairs.  “You’re wife is going to love the house.”

“I so will!  I’ll be the envy of all my friends!” the wife exclaimed, signing the papers.  “I’d have sold my soul for this house.”

“I know,” said the real estate agent.  A wicked smirk and gleam in her eye accompanied the yelp and sound of the husband tumbling down the stairs.  “You just did.”

**Note:  The first three lines, in bold, were provided as part of the writing prompt.

Flash Fiction: It Just Happened

Story created in response to Zachary Pettit’s writing prompt “Literary Roadshow, Slaughterhouse-Five Edition” found in his Promptly blog post: Beyond the Books – A Closer Look at Kurt Vonnegut, 8 Mar 2011.

It Just Happened (word count: 415)

“What did his wife say?”

“She doesn’t know yet,” I said. “It just happened.”

“Call her up and get a statement.”

“What?”

“A statement,” the patronizing butthead repeated.  “One of those things we get from people when things like this happen.”

“I know what a statement is, sir, but this isn’t exactly normal…and what exactly am I supposed to ask her?  She doesn’t have any idea that it just happened, nor that her husband was involved with it.”

“The head shed doesn’t care.  They just want something from ‘the grieving widow’ so that they can twist it to mean what they want.”  As he headed out the door, he quipped, “Just get a statement.”

I growled as I turned to the phone and picked it up to make the call.  As I started pushing buttons, trying to figure out what I was going to say, I heard someone on the other end.

“Hello,” I said.  “Who is this?”

It just happened, didn’t it?”

“Ma’am, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.  Who are you?”

“He told me it would happen sooner or later.  You didn’t think he kept secrets from me, did you?”

“Again, ma’am, I’m not sure what you think you know…”

“I know everything.  He made copies of his research so that if something happened, he wouldn’t just disappear without anyone finding out what he was working on.”

I was at a loss.  “Um… I, uh…”

“Well, I suppose I should call the authorities now that you’ve all bungled things up.  That’s what he wanted me to do.”

“Ma’am, there’s no need to do that.  We weren’t doing anything.  It just happened.”

“Young man, I’m not stupid or senile.  Things don’t just happen, but I don’t suppose it matters now.  It’s just a matter of time before what you’ve all started finishes us.”

“There’s no reason for dramatics, ma’am.  We have everything contained.”

“If you believe that, you have no idea what they were really working on.”

She’d caught me off guard again.  Did she really know that much about the project?

Her voice had softened, gotten more peaceful, when she continued, “Ah, well, I’ll be heading down to the cathedral and spending my last few hours on earth in His presence.  I’d suggest you do similar, but I find many of the folks my husband worked with found it difficult to believe in what they couldn’t see.”

I heard her hang up, heard the line go dead, and then my world imploded.