Here’s my offering for Chuck Wendig’s latest flash fiction challenge. The challenge was to pick a line from last week’s First Line challenge, and write 1,000 words. I chose a line by Bob Pastorella, and worked on it gradually over the week. The first bit came to me quickly, the last was rushed last night. Oh yeah, possibly some triggers for domestic violence.
When those things on Mae’s back turned out to be wings, Frankie got a camcorder from the pawnshop, figuring he’d be a Youtube sensation in less than a week. Mae said she didn’t really want to be all over the internet until Frankie pointed out that Justin Bieber got his start on Youtube, and wasn’t he richer than God now?
They decided to do a short clip, just as a teaser. Maybe, Frankie said, some Hollywood agent would see it and want to hire them. Mae sat primly on the bed wearing cut-off jean shorts and a shy smile, her wings folded discreetly behind her. The only shirts she’d cut down to let the wings through were old sweaters, so they thought they’d make it a little racy, perhaps bring in a few more clicks. She wouldn’t show any nipple, of course. Youtube seemed fine with leathery mutant clawed wings, but show any nipple and they’d lock the whole thing down. So a little modesty it was, with the implied suggestion of her skinny ass.
“Just don’t make me look like a freak, okay,” she said. Frankie fiddled absent-mindedly with the zoom.
“Well, hon, that could be a problem” he said, “Because you kind of are a freak. I mean, you’re still hot, and you’re my freak, but, you know…” Mae pouted, but didn’t respond.
The video was short and simple. Mae sat on the bed with an innocent smile, her arms across her chest. As the camera zoomed out she slowly extended the wings to their full span and her smile widened into a wicked grin. That was the whole thing. Frankie plugged the camera into his ancient PC and Mae’s wings were online in ten minutes. They sat back and waited for the accolades, but all they got, eventually, were vulgar comments, and praise for their Photoshop skills.
“We’ll do another one,” Frankie suggested a few days later. “Make it a little sexier, maybe flap your wings a bit more.”
“Frankie, I don’t want to do any more videos,” Mae protested. “I don’t want people to look at me and think I’m a monster!” Frankie leaned in, looked into her eyes and stroked her left wing. It was warm and soft, like new skin that should be somewhere more private.
“You’ll do it,” he said, “and you’ll do anything else that I say. What else are you going to do? Cut holes in the back of a Walmart vest and be a greeter?” He pinched on the pink membrane. Mae flinched and a talon at the tip of the wing bone flexed and punched into Frankie’s hand. He pulled his hand back and raised it to hit Mae. She cowered, and the wing wrapped protectively around her. Frankie lowered his hand and sucked at the wound, which still bled.
“You’ll do another video,” he said as he walked away. “It’ll be something no one will ever forget.”
Frankie didn’t mention filming for a while after that, and Mae tried to keep to herself. Whenever he tried to get some action she said she had a headache. She didn’t want him to see the changes that were happening to her body, like the sharp little dew claws poking out of her heels, and whatever was happening with her arms. There were other things too, things that made her feel strong and confident, like she’d felt before meeting Frankie. She could see in the dark, and began keeping lights off whenever possible, even at night. She felt awake and alert. Hell, if she didn’t know better she might even think her ass was getting bigger.
“I think we should do some porn,” Frankie said one day. “Did you know they have Youtube for porn? Porntube? Youporn? Something like that. Anyway, we do some crazy gonzo shit, maybe call it a wingjob or something, and we post it there to build an audience. Then we get our own website and charge people for photos and videos. We’ll make a buttload of money.”
“I don’t want to do porn,” Mae said, sitting up on the couch. “I don’t want to do any more videos. I don’t want people looking at me.” Frankie roughly pushed her back down on the couch.
“You’ll do this one,” he said. “If nobody looks at it maybe we won’t do any more, but goddamnit you’ll do this one, and nobody will ever forget it.” She sat back up and thought for a moment.
“All right,” she said. “We’ll do something that nobody will ever forget.”
Once again Mae sat on the bed, her wings folded behind her. She’d wrapped a sheet around herself, but wore no innocent smile this time.
“Christ, at least pretend like you’re having a good time,” Frankie said. He set the camera at the foot of the bed. He looked into the viewscreen, then considered moving it to the side of the bed.
“Just leave the camera there and let’s do this,” Mae said. Frankie pressed the record button then got on the bed. They started kissing, and he pulled Mae’s sheet down, exposing her breasts to the camera. He pulled back from the kiss for a moment, looking bewildered, but Mae drew him back before he noticed the drops of his blood on the white sheets. She unbuttoned his bowling shirt, peeled it off his shoulders and pushed him to the bed.
“Open the wings,” he whispered. “Show the camera the wings.” She held him down and looked into his eyes.
“Oh, I’ll show you the wings,” she said, and they opened with a snap that made Frankie’s Ed Hardy poster flutter on the wall. She saw there was still some blood on his lip from her bite and flicked out a long tongue, its tip forked, to lick up the droplets. Frankie’s eyes widened. A series of flexible spines popped out of each forearm, and she raked angry welts across his chest. He screamed, briefly, until she tore his throat out in two bites. Mae looked into the camera.
“You’ll never forget this, will you?”