View Full Version : No Good Deed - Flash Fiction (1669 words)

April 18th, 2017, 11:36 PM
I woke up to the sound of water.

What the hell?

The sound reminded me a hard rain striking polished concrete. On a normal day Iíd enjoy that natural music, but this time, it struck a cord of fear in me. The problem was, I was laying down in the bed of my shared apartment that was nestled in Jersey City. The brownstone was fairly new, nothing like the old building I abandoned up in the Bronx. That place was much further away from Manhattan, where I actually wanted to be, but steadfastly refused and/or was unable to pay to live there. Instead, I chose Jersey City. I thought at the time being fifteen minutes from the famous Madison Square Garden was worth the extra dollar on the extremely limited, and overly crowded, NJ subway system dubbed the PATH.

I still have no idea what that acronym stands for.

Reflexively, I grabbed my glasses always stationed within armís reach, and checked the time on my alarm clock. The green glowing numbers informed me that I still have another fifteen minutes before I must rise and get dressed for work.

Where the hell is that sound coming from?

Opening the door of my room, I craned my neck to see down the hallway and out of the window in the not-so-distance living room.

Oh, itís still raining. Wow, itís pouring out there.

I still remember thinking how loud the sound of the rain was as it struck the windows with intense fervor. But, even with my eyes locating the source of the sound, something still didnít feel quite right. The soundÖ it didnít feel right.

With a shrug, I turned back to my room, grabbed articles of clothing to wear for work, and headed to the bathroom. As I passed through the hallway and into the kitchen, I rubbed my hand across my cheek, knowing Iím going to have to shave today, but not looking forward to the experience. I still donít enjoy shaving, but itís a chore I know I must do if I want to look like I belong in a cubicle. Looking into the small vanity mirror, I debated whether or not to actually use the razor. I mean, the stumble wasnít that noticeable I thought.

Thatís when I saw it. Shower curtain drawn, I witnessed the most curious of things. The water in the bathtub was flowing in reverse. Thus far, the water gathered two inches inside of the tub. Even more curious, the water was rising, slowly, steadily, and showed no signs of ceasing.

Like during a dream, we ignore the most bizarre things, allowing the weird to pass without acting. So when I think about it, it was strange for me to begin brushing my teeth and act as if was rising in the tub was not of concern.

Thatís really odd. The waterís still not going down the drain.

Thereís something ominous about water backing up into your home. It only grows in danger as the moments continue to pass. Never stopping, never slowing down, it just continues to grow. For every inch the water rose I thought, it has to stop now, right? I turned to mirror, continuing my daily ritual of preparing myself to look presentable to the world, all the while a growing dread rose just inches from me in the tub as well as and my chest.

Wow, thatís a lot of water.

It wasnít until I notice the water in the toilet begin to march up the white, shiny bowl that I stopped thinking itís going to cease on its own.

Why I closed the toilet lid is a question I could never answer, at least not logically. The act was born out of pure desperation and confusion. Somewhere in my thoughts the idea of the toilet lid, plunging the fluid into darkness, would stop the waterís progress. Nonsense. Even after the blue plastic of the lid thudded against the cushioned seat, I knew shitÖ literally, was probably going to be hitting the fan.

Boxers on my ass and the dayís clothes in hand, I dashed back to my room and grabbed the essentially.
Wrist watch
Ring (my dadís blue sapphire pinkie ring, which I still own and love)

Itís funny how hope pops up when it shouldnít. It does so knowing itíll be dashed to pieces within the next few breaths, but there it was, telling me this water isnít going to spill over and actually hit the floor. Thatís crazy. This is Jersey City, itís a major city in the state of New Jersey, thereís no way this should be happening in a place like this. Maybe itíll all just sink down and disappear.

The sound of water slapping the checked tile on the bathroom floor announced to the world that hope is now dead.
Like the eternal, ever-present and completely unstoppable villain in a B-level slasher movie, the water appeared at the foot of the hallway, already engulfing the kitchen.

Suddenly driven by the fear that Iíll have to leave this apartment wearing nothing but my boxers, I turned back into the room and immediately begin lifting things off of the floor and donning my clothes for the day... minus pants.

A minute later, and just like any good slasher movie, the villain appears at the edge of my room, hiding just out of sight, ready to attack.

Goddamn it!

There is a feeling of utter powerlessness that overwhelms the mind during a flood. I suspect itís very much the same feeling for anyone so unfortunate to be caught in any natural disaster. Thereís nothing you can do. Thereís no reasoning with the elements. Thereís no plea that will cause the water to abate. It will strike if you are in its path and the loss it was create is inevitable and unavoidable. One can only pray that the damage remains minimal and nothing living is injured when nature, and all of her fury, marches through.

So, there I wasÖ boxers, shirt and tie on, utter defeat on my face, and I still have to be at work by 9:00am. The boss must have their pound of flesh.

I remember a very distinct switch in my mind that turned from fret to surrender and acceptance. I canít stop this and it will not stop because my things are in the waterís path. That acceptance instantly fed a desire to minimize the damage for both myself and my roommate, if that at all possible.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I began looking for things I could save, even as the water continued stalking me throughout the small apartment. Wires were my first target. Then, clothing (my roomy was a rather messy person). Finally, moving things more substantial from the living room floor to the locations that were now out of the reach of the creeping water, I began moving things I previously reasoned was not within my ability to save. Things like the TV and tables were the first in line to test my strength. After Iíd finished my salvage goals, the water reached a height of mid-calf.

Done. Finally. Time to go to work.

Then I heard it. A buzzing. Like an alarm going off far away, the sound seemed to be sending ripples through the water.

I liked my roommate. He was my senior by more than a decade, but he was a good guy nevertheless. I wouldnít want him to get hurt when he finally comes home after working the nightshift. Stepping down into nearly knee-high water only to find himself electrocuted because I failed to act. What kind of roomy would I be if I did nothing?

So, tracing the tiny waves, I was shocked to see a multi-outlet sending out humming waves of distress through the water.

Someone could get hurt. I better turn off that red glowing switch, completely submerged in whatís most likely very contaminated, although clear, water.

Maybe it was the adrenaline, the pressure of the moment, the thought that this is going to cost me money I didnít have or maybe it was simply the act of a nice guy, to this day Iíve no idea what was really going on in my mind. How could a reasonably intelligent young man of twenty-six, think it wise to plunge his hand into water, literally humming, with electricity? I can only assume the assessment of my own intelligence was greatly flawed.

The initially shock was, shocking. I could feel the electrical current shoot up my arm and down through my legs. The intensity of the shock was such that I could not accurately place my finger on the glowing red switch submerged in water (HINT!). Undeterred by the universeís attempt to save my life, my hand remained in the water as electricity vibrated both the water and my body. I attempted to hit that switch at least six times to no avail, before I finally withdrew my hand in frustration.

I canít just leave it there. Someone could get hurt.

I think at that point, my brain was scrambled and resting between two pieces of toasted, wheat bread. I say that because I again plunged my hand into the water, fighting my own reason and all of the physical signals that tell you not to do something so monumentally foolish. Still determined to save my friend, I finally hit my mark and clicked off the electricity running through the multi-outlet strip. The humming stopped, the water ceased rippling and I saved my roommate from getting the shock of his life.

Finally getting to the office, flustered and somewhat confused, I called everyone I needed to alert of the problem, including my roommate. It was here, within the confines of my cubicle, did the reality of the situation strike me.

What the fuck was I thinking! I could have died! I completed a circuit with my body!

My fingertips remained numb for week and once again I cheated death.

April 19th, 2017, 12:45 AM
I feel you need to take some time and read this aloud. There are a lot of missteps in the writing, mainly grammatically. There are multiple uses of "the" continuously, which break the flow. The use of "essentially" instead of "essentials" etc. Read it aloud, do a decent proof read, and you should be able find most of the slip ups. I frankly just dont have time to fully point out each one.

Plot wise, it honestly seems muddled to say the least. It seems more like a exercise in tension rather than a WIP. I, as a reader, am being built up to be amazed by whatever is the "antagonist" in this situation. And the water/outlet was hardly a good payoff tbh. I don't expect it to be a thriller or anything with something that would terrify me out my pants, it's just that the payoff for all that build up is weak. I guess I expected more than just a bad plumbing job. Still, the fact that you got me built up for something still rings true. It's just I got stacked up for something that ultimately didn't satisfy the level of build up.

Also, the whole electricity thing kinda is boggling for the mind in a non comprehensive way. Granted, I skipped to the line "I liked my roommate..." but the point still rings true: When were we given the notice that there was a roommate? I mean it's a general rule that if you have a device (like a character, weapon, magic etc etc) that drives the plot in Act 3, establish it in Act 1. See, there is no establishing here and since the "roommate" is the driving force behind the protagonist getting shocked, he needs to be established earlier. Maybe mention him snoring earlier on so there is no "sudden plot pusher" that is just there to push the plot at your whim. Just establish it earlier and I think it will flow better.

Also, there were two very unnecessary pieces of (I wouldn't call it exposition or backstory, I'd call it details.) details. The whole "shaving scene" and the little parenthesis about the ring. Mainly, the parenthesis are not needed, you can let the reader assume and use their imaginations to infer the rings significance, some may think it's a wedding band, others may see it as a heirloom, there is no need to be oddly punctual about it. Overall, the shaving scene just seemed like filler for a weak paragraph. It seemed like an attempt to build character, but it doesn't really do much for development. He doesn't like shaving, and he doesn't shave anyway, so the point of the paragraph is overtly moot other than introducing a plot pusher of the water backing up. Have him brush his teeth, or hell, you could have him shave, but it doesn't have to be so overwrought with words. The point of the paragraph is to push the plot not establish a shaving scene.

April 19th, 2017, 04:08 PM
I was confused on the electricity part as well. I skipped almost the line about him being a good roommate and that was his duty, but understood the story. The no good deed is that he almost killed himself.

Phil Istine
May 11th, 2017, 08:31 AM
I have to be honest, I struggled with this one.
Kudos for putting your story out there but it needs extensive proofreading for SPAG issues. Usually I can put those aside if the plot draws me in, but I'm thinking that anyone doing what the MC did would be dead. Mind you, it is fiction :)

May 17th, 2017, 07:26 PM
Why didn't he just write a big warning note and put it on the door for his roommate who is a decade older than him, but "nevertheless " a good guy?[emoji2]

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May 26th, 2017, 06:11 AM
I liked the first 3 sentences, but gave up at 'The problem was' and skim read the rest.

I think the story started with speed, but then slowed down and felt sort of explanatory.
I think explaining stuff is OK once the story has my interest, but until then it needs to accelerate and throw more and more bait until I'm hooked, and will hold through the... scene setting/context setting stuff.

I'm new so can't offer much advice, but just keep up the good work and you'll be a pro in no time!

June 11th, 2017, 08:11 AM
Quite frankly I don't think this is flash fiction. Flash fiction tends to bee a few hundred words rather than over a thousand. the key to flash fiction (and ideally any type of writing) is that EVERY WORD needs to be worth having in the story. So i don't know if you mean to shave this down or you mean to make this a short story.

While i understand that this kind of event can be interesting to tell your friends should it happen to you in real life, i'm not sure it is effective as the main narrative in a short story. for one thing, it puts the character in a reactionary position rather than an active one. when you have a character you need them to 1. do something, and 2. want to do something. in the case of this piece, the character is merely afflicted by the situation and had little to no emotional or psychological resonance to the event or the actions he takes. it's one thing to tell a story where "holy shit i almost died", but in a fictional format it's hard to care that the character almost died when we know almost nothing about them.

I don't think the title fits, mostly because it's not only part of an axiom, it's the title of a song from the musical Wicked. And unlike many titles, it doesn't seem to be involved in what the story actually is about.