Monday, August 31, 2015

The Parasol: New Flash Horror Fiction

Chloe loved the umbrella-- she preferred to call it a parasol-- from the moment she saw it in the corner of the Parish Thrift Shoppe. 


She was down on her luck-- just having lost her job as a server at that diner, the one where the boss kept trying to pinch her bum, or made suggestions about how, if she wore a push-up bra, she might get better tips.


"Hell, Chlo'," he would guffaw, "I'll tip ya, meself, sure I would, if'n ya'd slip behind the pop-bottles with me. Ha!"
She slapped his face, kicked him in the essentials, leaving him moaning on the floor, and ran out into the rain, not forgetting her little parasol, which she had left alone in the corner. 


She had begun to think of the little thing as more of a pet, a friend, not just an umbrella, and often whispered to it as she walked in the rain.... She began to love the rain, to prefer it to the sunny days which were so rare in London, in the late fall, when the days grew so short, and the cold came so early. 


The umbrella-- parasol!-- sheltered her; it was her friend, her only friend. 


She spoke to it: "Just a little bit more walking, Parry, and then we will go home; I promise."


But she didn't want to go home-- back to her sad little flat with the thin walls, and the neighbors always quarrelling on the other side--she was certain that they drank. They were always either screaming at one another at all hours, or having sex-- she would never call it making love; no. Not with their mattress, that old bare, smelly bedspring skrawking and squeaking away, over and over and over again.


So she walked. In the rain. It splashed and plashed atop her friend, her Parry, and underneath it, she was safe. 


It seemed to make a drumming noise, the rain, and she could hear it-- almost as if it were speaking to her:
DONT GO HOME
DONT GO HOME
WALK SOME MORE
WALK SOME MORE


Where was that coming from?


It must be-- yes!-- her friend. Parry was speaking! How lovely-- at last!


"I will walk with you, Parry; don't you worry," Chloe said, smiling for the first time in many days, through the rain-spatters on her face.


It was raining harder now: would it ever stop?


TO THE BRIDGE
WALK 
TO THE BRIDGE
CHLOE WALK


"Why, yes, I could do that," Chloe answered her friend, her only friend, her parasol, Parry, "We will cross the bridge together-- and, perhaps (she added, philosophically), find new beginnings on the other side!"


And so, they slogged on--her shoes were damp clear through, and even the extra-heavy socks she had put on that morning, expecting to walk from store to restaurant to shop, seeking work, were two enormous balls of soaking-wet wool and cotton.


They reached the bridge.


CROSS THE BRIDGE
CROSS THE BRIDGE
CROSS CHLOE
She heard Parry saying.


"Yes yes, I am doing that," she said, gaily, kicking at the enormous puddles, the rain pouring down on her parasol, as if it would never stop.


They were at the center of the bridge now; she could see the Thames rolling hard and fast, on both sides. Dark water dark.


And the voice of her parasol, Parry, in her head:
JUMP CHLOE JUMP
JUMP CHLOE JUMP
JUMP CHLOE....


"Why, I--" stammered Chloe.


She threw the parasol down, and began to run, to the bridge's edge....