MOSFET

Short Fiction By M. Wyers

Lisa pulled the tap on the coffee maker, filling up the largest cup they had. The smell of nearly fresh coffee mixed with gasoline and whatever was in those breakfast tacos behind the counter flooded her senses. Folks were streaming in and out like ants, grabbing a drink and a quick bite before heading out to work, slamming just enough cash on the counter as they left. This was their daily routine, the guy behind the counter nodded as they did so, recognizing each one of them. She put the lid on her coffee and made her way to the front.

The guy waved her items across the barcode scanner, playing that Sonic the Hedgehog ring noise as they passed. “Will that be all?”

“A pack of Luckies, please.”

He fetched the little white box from behind the counter, “That will be $18.50.”

She thanked him, handing over a fresh-from-the-ATM twenty dollar bill. Before he could give her change she was out the door, quickly tapping the key fob to unlock the car. The red hatchback was loaded with everything she would need for the trip: A suitcase of clothes, a few boxes of books, cooler of food, laptop and chargers, ammo and shotgun. Lisa carried the pistol on herself, which meant removing it from the holster before getting in the car. Glock secured in the center console, coffee and donuts in the cup holders, she pushed in the clutch and pushed the ignition.

Two weeks. That’s how long she would be gone. The cabins were only a five and a half hour drive away, the code to the door already set up in her phone. She took this trip every year, using all of her vacation days in the process. No distractions, no TV, nothing but work. Her phone would hardly get signal and the closest restaurant was in a town a half hour out, but those two weeks were always her most productive.

She stopped halfway for lunch and to stretch her legs. Driving wasn’t stressful when no one else was in the car. Her mind was free to think, to plot out the story for the next book, working out all the details while passing eighteen wheelers and dodging the highway patrol.

A few hours later the view from her car windows changed from the void of fast food restaurants and gas stations along the interstate to the towering green pines which would be her view from every window for the next few days. The road took her around a large lake, hills, and the entrance to the camp property. She checked in with the ranger station where the guard handed her a paper map with her cabin circled in red pencil.

She knew exactly where it was, always booking the same cabin each year. It was the furthest from the lake, from the multi-family cabins, from the party pavilion. Thankfully, there weren’t too many loud people hanging around the lake in the winter.

Lisa could make out a figure leaning against the wooden railing of the porch as she rolled up the driveway. Recognizing who it was immediately, those boots, the jeans, that green jacket, she got out of the car and walked up the steps. He stood with a small cup of coffee in one hand, waving a smile. She invented that smile.

“Miss me?”

“Sorry Jim, you’re staying dead.”

“Oh come on, they loved me.”

“I don’t write soap operas, I can’t just fake your death because the readers want more of you.” She said, tapping her phone to the door lock. “Is everyone else here?”

“Yeah, they should be.”

As he followed her into the living room, various other characters began to appear. The detectives on the couch, murderer in the kitchen, one of the street children running across the wooden planked floor. More appeared as they came back to her memory. “Alright everyone,” she said, pulling a cigarette from the pack with her teeth, “let’s get started.”

His hand reached into the center console, past the collection of old cables, receipts, and an empty CD case. The larger coins had shifted to the bottom but he soon found a small stash of quarters. Picking through the lint and pennies he began to tally the amount.

Twenty five, fifty, one twenty-five…

It was lunchtime on a scorching Tuesday afternoon. He had just finished his morning shift at the print shop and was praying he wouldn’t be called in for the night shift as well. Once a week he would scrape up his odd change in order to have something hot to eat after work. His favorite place to go was the old Taco Bell down the street. The place hadn’t been remodeled since the 80’s and the front still had the Spanish mission shape with brown faded sign out front. It may have been old but they still had a drive thru, which is where he was now, counting the spare change in his sunbleached Honda Civic.

Four bucks was all it took to get a beef burrito at lunch and between the heat and the broken A/C in his car it would still be warm by the time he got back to his apartment. With his change in hand, wishing he had the extra few cents to get a $5 box, the car ahead of him moved up and he turned down his radio.

“Thank you for choosing Taco Bell. What can I get you today?”

“Uh yeah, I’d like a beef burrito supreme with no sour cream.”

“OK, anything else?”

“No, that’s all.”

“And you wanted no sour cream on that burrito, right?”

“Right.”

“OK then, that will be $3.94.”

Putting the car back in first he inched forward towards the window. He turned the radio back up, some politician from the city was confused as to why businesses were closing on streets where vehicles were banned. The woman went on for five whole minutes about how selfish people were for not moving closer to work. The cracked leather seats scratched his legs as he shifted, the A/C hadn’t worked in years and each open window was like an open oven door. Moments later the car in front of him drove off.

The drive thru window slid open as he pulled up to it. A young man in a black embroidered baseball cap leaned over the aluminum drive thru window frame. “That will be $3.94.” He said, extending an empty hand.

“Hope change is OK.”

The young man cupped his hands to accept the mass of coins, “Yeah dude, it’s fine.” He said, moving to the register to distribute the coins in their rightful trays. An older woman in an embroidered button down shirt and clip on tie came up to the window with the brown paper bag.

“Burrito supreme?”

“Yes, thank you.” He said, taking the bag and carefully placing it down in the passenger seat.

Traffic at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday anywhere else would have been a breeze, but every other factory in the area also let out at two, making the twenty minute drive to his apartment take almost an hour. He pulled up to the security gate and swiped his key card. The janky old gate slowly crawled open, leaving just enough room for his car to fit through.

He parked in the shade and rolled up his windows. The hike up the three flights of stairs to his apartment burned his legs, his feet aching from standing at work all night. Struggling to get his keys out of his pocket while holding his food and backpack he dropped a few tan napkins. Once through the door he tossed the bag on the coffee table and switched on the TV and Xbox. Sitting down on his small couch he carefully unwrapped the paper from the top of one the burritos and took a bite. A friend of his sent him a party invite to play a game. He took another bite and put on his headset so they could voice chat during the match. While waiting for the group to queue he took a third bite only to be met with almost no resistance from the center of the burrito and a mouthful of warm sour cream.

Alyssa had just finished the dishes when the coffee maker sputtered and spat, signaling the end of its brewing cycle. She dried out her favorite mug with a dishtowel and sat it on the counter. Cool air blew in from the cracked open kitchen window, a rare thing to be able to do in this climate. Moving to Marfa was, well let’s just say it was interesting. She lived with her boyfriend Benjamin who was working for an observatory just north of town. He was in the den finishing a report on his laptop. “Coffee’s ready, babe.”

“Thanks, I’ll get some in a sec.”

She poured her coffee, “Alright, I’ll be outside.” Grabbing her jacket, she went out to the back porch and sat on the wrought iron patio table. It came with the house but had no chairs, a hole sat in the middle for an umbrella which was covered by a large flowerpot which had been repurposed as the ashtray. Alyssa pulled a soft pack of camels from her front coat pocket, took one out between her lips, and lit it with an old plastic lighter kept stuffed between the mesh of the tabletop. She looked up at the tail end of the sunset over the horizon. The sky was excruciatingly clear, stars appeared even before the sunlight was fully diminished. A sliver of a crescent moon hung low in the night sky, and with the sunset fading, the remainder of the moon could still be seen, light reflecting back from the earth to expose it. She exhaled and brought the steaming cup of coffee to her lips.

There were several nights where she had gone out with Benjamin to telescope clubs and such, camping out in the desert, sleeping out in the open and just staring into the abyss of space. That’s how they met anyway. She was the photographer brought out to shoot a piece on the Marfa Lights and he was the one being interviewed. A little coffee after work turned into dinner which turned into an invitation to a stargazing campout which turned into a decent relationship.

“Hey babe!” She cried out into the house. “That moonshine thing is going on, you should come look.” Ben hurried out into the backyard with his coffee.

“Oh, it’s earthshine.” He exclaimed and set his coffee on the metal table. “Let me go grab a scope.” Of which he had several and just as soon returned with a long telescope on a tripod. “You should get your camera.”

Alyssa laid her unfinished cigarette on the table and rushed in to get her camera. By the time she returned Ben had set up his scope and had the moon in sight. The sun had nearly completely set when she made it back out to take a photo. Looking through the lens of her camera she worked quickly to get the image in focus. Just as soon as she had the grey reflection in her view she noticed something odd. There was movement in the shadow, something she assumed was an issue with the digital screen.

She stepped back from the camera, checking the dimly lit sphere with her own eyes. Yes, there was something moving across the surface. Smoke from her cigarette? No, it was still on the table. Perhaps a thin strip of cloud grazing along the sky? It was perfectly clear out. Only the fading hue of orange and pink on the horizon. The blue grey sphere of the moon was cupped with an illuminated sliver of white along its edge. But no matter what she did to get a better look of it something seemed to squirm or flow on the surface of the lightly illuminated side.

“Ben?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you see that wiggling stuff on the grey side of the moon?” She said, letting her camera hang from her neck. He had already brought the moon into focus and was doing fine tuning to accommodate the movement.

“Um, no?” He said, looking up at her in confusion. “Maybe you need to clean your lens.”

“Let me see through the scope.” She said, walking over to him. He backed away from the eyepiece and let her bring it into view. Sure enough, the movement was still there. Like a sea of snakes under sand the surface of the moon was alive. As though it had been infected with worms or some kind of parasitic creature. She watched closely as the wiggling curls grew thicker and ran faster beneath the skin of the surface.

“Well?” Ben interrupted. “What is it?”

She didn’t want to tell him what she was looking at. Surely she was wrong and was only imagining things. Work had been stressful enough as it was the past few days and on top of that the two of them had been fighting over finances. “It’s nothing.” She said, looking back into the eyepiece. “You’re right, I just need to clean my lens.” But she continued to look, watching the waves of worms wriggle and curl. He wouldn’t believe her anyway.

Within a few minutes the shadow of the moon faded into darkness as light from the sun completely vanished over the horizon. She sat there on the patio table and watched it go, finishing her coffee and cigarette. The stars came out properly, the cold air began to cut through her sweater. Ben called her back in the house, a movie she liked was on. He had put away his telescope and brought her camera back inside for her and made some popcorn over the stove.

“I’ll be there in a second.” She said putting her coffee cup in the sink and walked to the bathroom to wash her hands. The water ran hot over her cold fingers, warming her up. Alyssa had meant to clean the bathroom that day, the mirror was splattered with little white specks from a week’s worth of tooth brushing and shaving. As she wiped it down with a wet towel she looked at her face. Cheeks red from the cold wind, her hair scattered with hairs that had escaped her ponytail. She splashed some water on her face but froze when she looked into her right eye. A slight wiggling around the faded blue iris. She wiped her face and checked again, now both eyes had them. The same tiny snakes she saw in the earthshine on the moon.

“Babe!” Ben called out from the living room, “The popcorn is getting cold. You OK in there?”

Alyssa looked out the bathroom doorway then back at the mirror. Her eyes were back to normal. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

We had danced that night. She followed me out of the club, abandoning her friends. This was the easy part. In the old days I would just feed on the vagrants that roamed the streets at night, using a pen knife to carve through my bite marks – simple and effective. But my tastes had changed, over the years I found I couldn’t drink just any human essence. I needed the blood of, you guessed it, youth. To be specific, humans at the two decade stage of their short lives. My companions insist that virgin blood is akin to drinking the blood of God but I’ve had it and quite honestly found it a little underripe. Seducing bright young things at nightclubs was just plain fun.

I had reserved a table for one, and waited for the inevitable, watching her argue with her now ex gentleman friend. She stormed over to their chairs and grabbed her long fox trimmed coat and wool hat. Her little friends in fringed dresses and pearls began to follow suit. Before she could yank it over her blonde finger wave I approached, and offered her a drink – commanding every ounce of seductive power within me. She said yes.

Donning my hat and jacket we left the club with her arm in mine. Her elbow length gloves sparkled in the moonlight as her grip on my sleeve slowly increased. It was working. I led her around the corner into a dark alleyway. Once sure of my surroundings I grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her up against the crumbling brick wall behind us. Normally my attacks are more subtle but I was hungry and she, well, she was divine. She giggled, I assumed drunkenly, and dared me to “Kiss her already.” My rapid breathing only increased, my fangs fully extended, skin flushed and beginning to sweat under my heavily starched shirt. I never had one beg me to do it.

Black laced lashes fluttered as she looked up at me with her big doe eyes. That tiny heart of lipstick split open to reveal a wicked smile. She tilted her head to the side to reveal that smooth open neckline beneath the red fur trim, and winked at me. What was she doing? Did she know what I was? I struck quickly, as always, but before I made it to her neck she intercepted my own lips with hers. I froze. My fangs retracted, any feeling of power I once had vanished. No, it felt as though she was siphoning it from me. Her arms wrapped around my neck as she drew me in closer, my chest against hers, powerless to stop it. My desire to feed changed into something I hadn’t felt in centuries, I wanted to please her.

What had she done to me? I should have been busy tossing her body behind the cocaine house around the corner. I should have been in a cab wiping the blood from my lips with my handkerchief. I should have been heading to the cabaret for dessert! But here I was, in the clutches of this bright young thing, begging her to kiss me again. That wicked smile curled up again before her attack, a barrage of kisses from those little red lips destroyed me. She whispered in my ear, “Let’s go back to my place.” I never hailed a cab so fast in my entire multi-century life.

It was a simple fair in a small town. The afternoon was filled with blue tarp wrapped stalls selling corn dogs the length of your forearm, long plastic color changing cups with the worlds most saccharine lemonade, and funnel cakes boiled in the same wondrous grease as the rest of the menu.

Various events would take place in the afternoon with a chili cook-off set up on a few folding tables scattered with bubbling crock pots. Local dance schools would have their members up on the makeshift stage performing their latest routines dressed in matching fringe jackets and cowgirl hats.

When the sky moved from it's normal blinding blue into the calming purple and grey hues of the evening the stage became a spot for the local radio station to begin playing all the classic Halloween dance numbers. Children dressed in their costumes walked the late 19th century sidewalks collecting candy from the store owners.

An empty lot near the railroad tracks served as a venue for the pop-up carnival that really only reached it's full hastily repainted rusted steel glory when night took over. Nothing (And I mean nothing) brings brings a fair to life quite like the glow of warm amber bulbs below a dead black sky. The sun could only show the flaws in the mechanical beasts that spun and bumped and whirled around in all the flashing colors one could imagine. A carnival requires the night.

Staying the night with friends we were left to our own devices for a few hours while our parents took our younger siblings around trick or treating the weekend before Halloween. We kept watches to let us know what time to meet back up by the lonely white ticket booth to be picked up by whoever's mom was hosting the sleepover.

My friends and I met up with other classmates, broke off into little groups, and scattered around the carnival area occasionally meeting back up to ensure we didn't lose anyone. At some point I lost the other girls in the chaos of it all and began to make my way to the ticket booth. I stopped at the balloon dart booth, I wasn't about to leave without attempting at least one game, and handed the attendant my dollar.

He was a thin guy in a dirty polo shirt, basketball shorts, and hiking boots. The logo of the carnival company stitched into the front left pocket digitized so poorly it was illegible. He grinned handing me six plastic darts caked in the grime of previous players cotton candy fingers. “Here ya go young lady.” I took them and aimed at one of the balloons with the most air in it. My aim was off but the dart landed on a lower one with a loud pop. The man cheered.

Two more darts. Both hitting not the target I intended but still managing to pop balloons. Others came up to play as the man hollered his chime of “Step right up! Five darts for a dollar!” One of them was a guy in the grade below me, Toby. I threw my fourth, this time it landed on the one I was aiming for. The man cheered, “Alright that's four, one more and you win a big prize!” They stood closer in anticipation of my final throw. The dirty plastic dart left my fingers but, I assumed due to the audience, it landed just between two balloons. “Sorry girl, try again for another dollar?”

I motioned that I was out of money but before I could walk away Toby slid a crinkled five dollar bill onto the plywood booth. “Hey, maybe you could win my little cousin a stuffed bear. I've been trying all night and I suck at it.” I shrugged my shoulders, why not, I wanted to keep playing more than I wanted a cheap stuffed animal. He handed him the five and a pile of darts were dumped on the table that looked even dirtier than the first set.

The initial three darts landed on their marks. With each pop of a balloon the little cousin cheered. Now I was nervous. The last thing I wanted to do was waste this guys money or, worse, disappoint this kid. My fourth dart sailed right into a small blue balloon. Pop. The kid cheered again. Down to the last dart I glanced around for the easiest one to hit. They were counting on me after all. Toby tried to quiet his cousin so I could concentrate. I aimed, and the dart hit the cork board with a smooth thock, shattering the bubble of yellow latex in its way.

With the lime green teddy bear won and the kid contained I still had several darts left. “If you get another five you can trade up to a bigger toy.” The man said winking at the ecstatic child. I agreed to finish out the game, if anything I still had half an hour to kill. I gave some of the darts to the kid to throw, for fun, knowing I probably wouldn't need them and subsequently missed every one she threw. Toby patted her on the head as she began to cry, “Look, I gotta get her back to her mom. You can have the rest.”

I took the final set of darts and waved the two of them goodbye. The man was helping other players join in while I continued. For some reason my aim was off and was now missing balloons with surgical precision. My beginners luck had seemed to run dry. I checked my watch, only a few minutes before I had to leave and only three darts left out of the two needed to win anything else.

Giving up, I tossed two of the darts at once, both landing on balloons. The attendant cheered, the other players cheered, Toby who was now standing beside me – sans little cousin – cheered. Just in time. I rolled the last dart between my fingers. “You have to blow on it!” Toby said, “Like in Vegas, it's good luck.” I had no clue what he was talking about but figured a little superstition couldn't hurt.

And wouldn't you know the son of a bitch hit something. I didn't even see what color it was, all I remember was the guy handing me an under-stuffed orange bear just as a set of lips tapped my cheek.

The odds of the plane hitting a sandbar in the first place were slim in the Pacific. Or were they? Whatever they were, they weren't good enough for the rest of the passengers to make it. Just me and the pilot managed to crawl out of the water when the little tampon of a plane landed. According to all the shit I went through in their bags the other two fellas were heading home to Japan, their skulls cracked open like jelly-filled eggs. We left the bodies in that section of the plane after salvaging what we could. The pilot and I came up with backstories for them after a few days. It was fun.

Well, as fun as it could be being stranded on some piddly island in the South Pacific. One would think that after a few hours a rescue ship or helicopter would swoop in and scoop us up. That never happened. We managed to fashion a shelter using broken tree limbs and the doors from the plane. The first day was spent setting up our little makeshift camp, mending the mobile radio and sorting what little food was available. With a small chartered plane like ours the only real food was kept in a small fridge which held mostly cheese, crackers, fruits, three cases of fiji water, and several tiny bottles of alcohol.

That food lasted three days before we started venturing into the island's vegetation for anything to eat. Thankfully every night crabs scuttled about the beach and were easy enough to catch. Meat wasn’t an issue so much as our limited source of water. Our phones were dead. It rained every afternoon which soaked everything we had and made the dark sand muddy, sticking to your skin.

Headaches from the caffeine withdrawals kicked in on the fourth day. We sat under the shade, watching the horizon. The pilot gave me a spare set of ray-bans. For hours we stared into the blue oblivion. Not once did so much as a dolphin go past us, not a single boat went by all day. We did see a few planes in the distance but too far out to notice us on our speck of land.

A week had gone by and half of our water supply was drained. We slept during the blistering heat and stayed awake at night to collect crabs and cook. One evening we were up, stir crazy from the stress of waiting to be rescued, and opened the little bottles of booze. Laying there drunk in the sand, listening to the waves rush along the shore I stared at the moon and watched the clouds glide across it. The pilot had discovered some mushrooms growing along the bark of the trees, claiming to know what they were. We ate them. If we died it wouldn’t matter.

We awoke from our shared shelter in the late afternoon, nausea overpowering our need to sleep. The pilot went out first, then rushed back in shaking me awake. There on the beach stood a huge creature carved out of stone. Blood ran down the cracks of the monolith, leading to the top. I climbed up one of the trees to get a better look. The heads of our fellow passengers stared back at me with empty eyes. Their sockets vomited blood down their cheeks and pooled around the top of the sculpture. I wished at that moment that I hadn’t survived.


This post was created on a flash fiction (250-750 words) writing prompt: The prompt is: Your protagonist is marooned on an island. One morning, an idol appears outside their shelter’s front door. It’s carved entirely from stone—except for the real human head on top.

13/100 #100daystooffload

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