Week 19 Flash Fiction Challenge: Fate 101

Photo by K. S. Brooks

The guy on the bike did not notice the girl with the backpack, nor did she see him. It’s not the first time. He didn’t see her at the movies. She didn’t see him in line at the bank. He didn’t see her going down the escalator at the mall as he went up.

In truth, they have crossed paths with each other a hundred times. Today is the hundredth time. The next time they meet, they will remember it always.

The next time they meet something big will happen that changes both their lives forever. The next time will be the 101st time they have met, but the first time either will know it, and the first they will remember.

In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, May 1st, 2012.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted.

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Photograph by K.S. Brooks, used here with the photographer’s permission. Copying or reproduction of any kind without express consent is prohibited. All rights reserved.

For a more detailed explanation of the contest & its workings, please see the post called “Writing Exercises Return with a Twist” from 12/24/11.

By participating in this exercise the contestants agree to the rules of the contest and waive any and all further considerations or permissions otherwise required for any winning entries to be published by Indies Unlimited as an e-book, showcasing all the photos and with the winning expositions credited appropriately and accordingly.

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8 thoughts on “Week 19 Flash Fiction Challenge: Fate 101”

  1. “Back again so soon, Tom?” the bearded shop owner said, as he rang a sale.

    “Yeah. Another package I missed before.” The young man pulled a small parcel from his backpack and waited while the owner gave change to a young woman. Tom glanced at her while waiting for them to finish. She wasn’t that pretty—not the kind of person who would turn your head—but her smile had a genuine quality about it, and when she turned her head and looked at him… He handed the parcel to the owner.

    “Haven’t I seen you somewhere?” she said, putting on her jacket. Tom couldn’t believe she was really using that line, but he lingered there, glad for the warmth inside the coffee shop. He looked at his watch. Still a few minutes before he had to be going.

    “I don’t think so, but I deliver a lot of places. Work around here?”

    “No, I’m a student. You just look really familiar.” She slung her purse strap over her shoulder and started toward the door.

    “That could be it,” he called before she could leave. She turned and moved back inside to allow someone else to pass. “I’m taking a night class. Creative writing. Don’t want to deliver packages forever. Besides, I’m not very good at it.” He smiled, and she was startled by the twinkle in his eye.

    “I just finished a coffee,” she said, “but you could talk me into another.”

    “Talk is something I’m good at.”

  2. She heard the tires screeching, then the odd sounding thump. For a heartbeat, she froze not wanting to turn around and confirm her worse fear. When she did turn, she saw the driver leaning out of his car, looking at the bicyclist he just hit, and then glancing to see if anyone else saw. Since she was behind his car, the driver did not see her and sped off.

    With her heart pounding wildly, she raced to the warped wreck of the bike and the man who was tossed five feet away from it. There was blood under his head, his leg twisted at an odd angle. As she knelt beside him, his contorted face told her he had to be alive. Gently, she laid her hand to his cheek, “Hang on, please.”

    As she fumbled with her phone, he moved slightly against her hand. “Wha…what happened?”

    “You’re gonna be alright, I’ve called for an ambulance,” she told him.

    “It hurts. It hurts so bad, I can’t make it,” he moaned.

    “You can make it,” she insisted.

    “I don’t know.”

    “I do. And I saw the bastard. So you have to live to see him pay.”

    “Saw him?”

    “The guy who did this. He took off.”

    “Took off? Ran?” He breathed deeply his eyes fluttering in an effort to gather his strength.

    “Yeah. So you’ll have to live until we get him.”

    “And you’ll stay with me, until then?” he asked groping for her hand.

    “You can count on it.”

  3. The girl heard the screech of the bike's brakes and the skidding steps of a sneaker on asphalt. She turned toward the rider, halfway off his bike. .

    "Are you okay?" the girl asked, moving closer.

    The guy was looking toward the overcast sky. He pointed upward. "What is that?"

    The girl saw what looked like a reverse cyclone slicing through the blank clouds. The swiftly growing yellow-white hot tip trailed a coruscating stream of bright vapor.

    "Oh my God!" The girl shouted. "It looks like…a meteor!"

    The guy looked sideways at the girl. "I think that's a big one, too."

    "Shouldn't there be sirens going off? Warning people?" The girl looked around worriedly.

    The guy tilted his head, pursing his lips slightly. "I've seen enough bad sci-fi flicks to know that is the proverbial harbinger of doom."

    The girl looked at him. "Are you freaking crazy? This isn't a b-movie!" She was shouting now.

    The guy chuckled. "That thing is moving too fast to run anywhere."

    "So that's it? The end of the line for us?" The girl said with a resigned calmness.

    The man smiled at her. "Yep. Pretty much."

    She looked up at the fireball, now filling half the sky with a halo of doom. "Well, heck."

    "Them's the breaks." The guy held the girl's hand in a comforting manner. She moved a little closer to him.

    "By the way, what's your name?"

    The guy smiled and they both looked up to face the end. "Well, I'm…"

  4. "Well now, what a surprise!" She stepped a small step backward.

    "How 'bout that?" The fellow's head leaned toward her, like a pumpkin trailing arms, over the fender of that silly bike, blue-and-white and somewhat dented (how many women had he tried this little approach on, so far?). "Hey, how 'bout that, girl?"

    He wasn't watching, not really. Eyes with their squint but he wasn't seeing her.

    No, isn't seeing me. Not one bit. Don't you remember, man-boy? We met last week, in SuperGroce. Last month, in Fitter-cize. I stood beside you, barely breathing, on the escalator in BigBox 2-3. Remember?

    "Hey, c'mon, girl. Hope up on the seat with me." Grizzled, muscled arms, tattooed and sweaty, moving closer now. She couldn't stop them; they were wrapping.

    Wrapping 'round me. Squeezing. I can't breathe now. Sliding down–can't even grab those wheel-spokes. Hot breath on me. And his eyes don't see a thing.

  5. Part of the dashing cyclist had met the limping pedestrian.

    Although they lived nearby, frequented the same streets, same shops and, when the cyclist had cash, same cafes, cyclist and limper never glanced at each other.

    Worse than plain, she doubted any man would wed her. She’d fallen off her trike age three, mashed face and skeleton. Worse, her wealthy forbearers were stunning.

    Her doctor deemed her otherwise healthy, a born mother. A baby? Potentially: beautiful, athletic, someday race in the Tour de France?

    No point in her looking around.

    The cyclist—-slender, 6’6”, blue eyes, black curls escaping his helmet, eleven toes (few knew)— did not look at girls. A hospital orderly, his paychecks went to bicycles, racing gear, repairs.

    The Big Race Saturday, rivals swiped his transmission. Biking Unlimited’s mechanic couldn’t give away new parts, but mentioned a source of revenue: the fertility clinic.

    The cyclist passed all tests, nurses praised his calves, he was remunerated, the mechanic installed a transmission, off he sped.

    In shuffled the Plain Pedestrian.

    It took. Took the requisite months too.

    Midnight. The cycling orderly wheeled her groaning gurney to the labor room. Nobody else needing him then, she with neither family nor friends present, he held her hand through labor, spelling the midwife, and sped her into Delivery.

    The obstetrician late from his poker game, midwife and orderly caught the bouncing blue-eyed boy with black curls and eleven toes.

    It dawned on the cyclist: he would love to be a father.

  6. “Dammit,” the cyclist muttered realizing he had forgotten his water bottle. He was going to need it for his fifty mile ride as he trained for his upcoming triathlon.

    He hopped his bike onto the sidewalk and turned back towards his apartment.

    ****

    “Crap,” the girl said aloud, remembering she had left her jump drive at the campus library. With the end of the term coming up, she couldn’t afford to lose her work.

    She turned and picked up her pace, her backpack swinging uncomfortably behind her.

    ****

    He saw the slender woman walking towards him. She seemed familiar, though he couldn’t have explained why. Just after he passed her, he couldn’t help looking back.

    ****

    The mugger had stepped out from the alleyway, shoving his gun into her back and wrapping his hand over her mouth. “Give me your money, or this is going to end badly,” he said.

    There was a sickening crack and the mugger dropped with a painful groan. She turned to see the seemingly familiar man who had been on the bike that had passed her. He dropped down to a crouch and wrenched the gun from the mugger’s hand.

    “Are you okay?” he asked.

    “Just a little shaken up,” she answered, her voice trembling. “Thank you.”

    The man pulled out his cell phone. “Let me give the police a call. They’ll probably need to question you. I can walk you home after that, if you’d like.”

    “I’d like that,” she replied with a smile.

  7. Janet had just stepped into the crosswalk when she heard the screech of bicycle hand brakes to her left. Stunned, she looked up to see a frightened looking stranger with serious brown eyes staring into her own. He had just started to smile when his expression suddenly changed to one of concern. Janet knew instantly why. The sudden acceleration in her pulse was a tipping point. Her face felt cold and numb. She knew from experience that her complexion had turned dusky. Sudden shocks were not kind to an enlarged, dying heart.

    The man took off his helmet and started to dump his bike to the curb when Janet waved him off. “I'll be okay,” she said unconvincingly. She gave him a brave smile and waved him on. He favored her with a smile as he pushed down on the left pedal and started across the intersection. He didn't make it. A car blew the red light and impacted him from the side, throwing him from the bike. His head struck the pavement with a sickening sound. Janet's heart labored against the shock of seeing someone so brutally struck. Still, she managed somehow to get to her phone and press 911.

    Just as Janet reached her building her pager went off. Taking out her cell phone she dialed her doctor's number. “Janet, we need you to come to the hospital right away. Good news, a heart has just become available.”

  8. He looked at the image on the photo, a young woman walking down a quiet city street carrying a heavy backpack. An address and time was scribbled in black sharpie across the bottom. The road was one he had traveled a hundred times. They had probably crossed paths often and not even noticed. It was an easy task in a city this large. Time was critical with his job, so he tucked the photo into a pocket and peddled down the street. Missing her could cost him future work.

    Neither the coffee nor the cool air could shake her fatigue. If only she could sleep without bad dreams. Worried about being late, she didn’t look before darting into the road. There was only a flicker of warning, a hostile wind that made her look up in time to see him barreling toward her. Their eyes met for just an instant, and the chill she saw in them made her heart stop. It felt like a DVD in slow motion – dark icy eyes – a glint of sun off the blade that appeared in his hand – and all the time her feet glued to the asphalt. Then, at the last second, the bicycle jerked, tossing him under a passing truck. She blinked as tears streamed down her face, trying to slow her racing heart. For just a moment, right before he fell, she saw the ghostly image of a foot, kicking the wheel of the bike.

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