View Full Version : Distractions

December 30th, 2011, 03:58 AM
Hiya. This is a first draft of a strange story I just wrote that I'm hoping to get feedback on (especially on how easy it is to understand what's happening since some parts get relatively odd without telling the reader right away what's going on). It has a little bit of fantasy, mystery, and humor in it so I just put it in the main fiction board. I enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it.
= )


I tried my best to make a dent in the wall with my dog's chew toy. It squeaked valiantly but alas, it had no effect. The damnable Youtube cats had gotten to me again and I needed an avenue to relieve my frustration. Perhaps an intervention call to Jeff? He did owe me for sitting through his last pair of breakup sob stories.

I sighed as the chew toy hit the floor, its once mighty ego deflated. I could think fast and I had a hundred ideas buzzing through my brain at any given time. (Murder plots. Fantastical battles. Post-apocalyptic hippie robots. That kind of thing.) But I let myself get distracted far too easily.

My cell phone buzzed. Aha! It was Jeff. How convenient. Reflex took over and I reached to pick it up.


I paused with my hand over the vibrating phone. Where had that come from?

From inside your mind! I'm the part of you that tells you what's right and wrong.

Huh. Oh, like Jiminy Cricket?

Emphatic no. In fact the poor chap died last year in a lawnmower accident. A tragic waste of whistling talent. But we've already wasted too much time and we have some big changes to make around here. And I know that you know what we both suspect that means.

I think I knew what I meant. And as much as I hated to admit it, I was right. My eyes darted from one side of the bedroom-office to the other. One side represented darkness: the internet modem, the game console, and the persistently vibrating cell phone. One side represented light: the stack of papers, the reference books, and the extraordinarily smudged whiteboard. In the center of it all was something capable of both light and darkness: the computer. I chose light.

My finger joyously jabbed the IGNORE button on the phone. Within seconds, I tossed it, the game console, and the dog-damn cat-producing internet modem into a large box. Feeling a great weight lift off my shoulders, I hefted the box up and exited the room to the stairs.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee greeted me as I descended into the living room. But my highly-sensitive coffee sniffer sensed something was amiss. What I was smelling was decaf. I never brewed decaf in my house and had in fact banned it from entering the premises. It was anathema to my line of work.

It became clearer to me when I spotted Eliza sitting at the corner booth. Well, really, things got very complicated very quickly the moment I saw her, but at least the decaf mystery was solved.

She was frantically writing a letter on a yellowed sheet of paper. It was stained with coffee and tears. Another drop fell from her cheek as the barista came from behind the counter and approached her.

“Eliza, you poor dear. Are you sure there's nothing I can do for you? At least let me get you some real coffee. You look so tired.” the woman said, a kindly expression on her features.

Eliza moved to cover up her writing and looked at the barista as if surprised to see her there. Darkness circled her eyes. “Thank you Priscilla, but this decaf is fine. I don't think caffeine would be good for me right now.” I craned my neck to see that she had a point. Her hands were trembling violently.

Priscilla scanned the day outside. “You know you really shouldn't be here with everything going on lately. Channel 8 said that serial killer murdered someone again early this morning. The police are calling him the Coffeehouse Killer because he'd kill people in broad daylight, but always in a coffee shop. I was almost too scared to come into work today.”

“Don't worry about me,” Eliza said with a one of those forced, conversation-ending smiles.

“Okay, sweetie. Let me know if you need anything.” Priscilla said and started walking to the back room of the coffeehouse.

I was in her way, so I reflexively moved to avoid her. The heavy box I carried made me slower though and I winced as I predicted a collision. But none came. Priscilla's ghostly image passed right through me and went on its way.

Aha! I get it now. I think. We're standing in your living room, but now we're seeing... the ghosts of coffeehouse past?

Nice try, Jiminy, but no. These are some of the characters of my overactive imagination. It happens sometimes.

First of all, I'm not a whistling cricket anymore than you're a wooden boy with an overzealous nose. Secondly, and keep in mind that this is your sentient subconscious speaking, this is not normal. Why wasn't I told about this anyway?

Actually, you being my subconscious and all, I'm surprised you've never noticed my occasional hallucinations. In fact, aren't you creating these images?

Nah. If anything that's your unconscious. I'd rather not get into the whole debate on the differences between the two of us. She and I split up years ago. Nasty business, really.

My unconscious is a she?

Yes. But this is quickly careening into the realm of Distraction in big bold lettering. Shall we be on our way outside?

Give a little whistle; and don't worry about it. Sometimes these stories can be healthy distractions. I've got to find out what happens to Eliza.

My subconscious subdued, I approached Eliza's booth until we were close enough to touch. I suddenly felt that I had some sort of an unfair advantage; she couldn't even see me, but I could hear her thoughts.

She crossed out a section of her scrawled writing with a shaking pen. Her best friend and lover, the only person who had really understood her, had betrayed her. Evan. She wanted to be sure the message she was sending him was perfectly clear. Eliza didn't care about the messiness of the paper. If anything, it would better show her passionate feelings before the end.

Another tear began to crawl down her cheek. She wiped it away and slammed her fist into the table. A set of napkin-wrapped utensils fell off of the table and onto the booth to her left. Thoughts roiling, Eliza stared at the steak knife that had fallen beside her.

The door chimed as a young man rushed into the coffeehouse. He was wearing a police uniform.

“Eliza!” he said and bolted to her side. I stepped out his way not to avoid crashing into him, but to avoid the awkward situation of his ghostly image standing inside of me. “What are you doing here? We need to leave.”

Only then did Eliza look up from the knife. “Evan. I need to have a talk with you.” Her left hand reached to grip the knife.

Evan looked from the scrawled, stained paper to the tears fighting in her eyes. His heart sank as he realized what was going on. She was going to break his heart. “Look, Eliza. I'm sorry about what happened and I can explain it all later. But for now we have to leave. Have you heard the news about the Coffeehouse Killer? Our department's been tracking his movements and we think we've found a pattern. Eliza, we think this shop will be his next target.”

“How long until the rest of your unit arrives?”

“Ten minutes at the most. But we need to get out of here just in case.” Evan held out a hand to help her out of the booth.

“That will be just enough time.” Eliza placed the paper in his outstretched hand. “Read it.” Under the table, her left hand's grip on the steak knife tightened until her knuckles were white.

Too easy, man. I figured it out 200 words ago. You've got to surprise the reader if this is going to be a mystery story.

Shut it, Jiminy.

Evan hesitated, then gave up and snatched the paper. His face turned pale as he read.

My ears picked up the sound of the back door closing as Priscilla walked back into the dining room. I saw that she had changed clothes but quickly turned my attention back to the scene unfolding at the booth.

Evan's other hand crept down to rest on his holstered pistol as he read further. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the glint of the steel knife under the table. He took a step backwards and began to unbuckle the holster.

“Eliza. You're -” Evan didn't finish his sentence. He drew his pistol when he saw the threat but it was too late. The knife plunged into his back once. Twice. Three times.

Eliza screamed as Evan's body fell to the tiled floor. She scrambled out of the booth and raised her own knife to defend herself. But she was no match for the brutal experience of the Coffeehouse Killer.

Priscilla grinned as Eliza's dying frame slumped against the booth. Another day. Another two notches she could add to her knife. Priscilla took a swig from a cup of espresso. Her hands were not shaking.

The kindly old lady! I should've known.

Don't be hard on yourself, Jiminy. I didn't even know it was her. Sometimes these stories come to life outside of my control.

At least it was an entertaining distraction. This box is getting heavy though. We need to head outside and do this thing. You have gasoline, right?

Of course I do. We'll just need to take a side trip to the garage.

I carried Jiminy and the box to the front door of my living room and stepped outside. I set the box down on the driveway and grabbed a can of gasoline and a blowtorch from the garage. When I came back outside I was only mildly surprised to see a woman that looked remarkably like Priscilla tending her petunias in the yard on the opposite side of the street. Shrugging, I proceeded to douse the box in gasoline.

This is it. This is where you give up every negative distraction in your life and turn it all around.

Yes. And it's all thanks to you, Jiminy.

I hummed “When you Wish Upon a Star” as I lit the blowtorch. Goodbye video games. Goodbye annoying friends. And I hope there's a special place in internet hell for you, Youtube cats.

It instantly lit afire when I touched the blue flame to the soaked cardboard. The smell of burning plastic, burning distractions, filled my nostrils. It was beautiful.

I was going to be a writer.

Die Oldhaetunde
January 3rd, 2012, 06:42 AM
*clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*...

I believe you already are. :D

January 5th, 2012, 09:13 PM
interesting read. great for a quick read, i'd just add a little more descriptive detail. but each writer has his own style, and it seems that you are finding your voice just fine.

January 6th, 2012, 02:49 AM
Thank you both for the comments.
Yeah, I went for very minimal description in this story because I originally wanted it to be flash fiction (less than 1000 words). After a while, I realized I was going to miss that mark anyway : )