Everything is the same. The flag is even blowing in the same direction.There stands the tower, just as it appeared in his dreams.
No girl plunging to her death, though. At least, she wasn’t there yet.
The dreams had haunted him for months, summoning him from his farm in Kansas to this spot. Why?
Is he here to prevent the girl from dying, or merely to witness it?
He sets his jaw in grim determination and heads toward the tower.
In 250 words or less, tell us 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, February 19th, 2013.
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. See HERE for additional information and terms.
12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Déjà View”
Red Jacket Girl
Alan saw the tower…Samsung and other ads, assuring him this was identical to the dream he’d had three nights running. A tower which would have a girl falling off of it, unless he could change it.
He needed to move beyond that point where he stood in his dream and observed the fall. He needed to find the girl, prevent her from going up in the tower. But could he stop this? He meant to try.
Just where had he stood when the event happened? Yes, to the right, by the trash can and the signpost. Taking note of that spot, he veered more to the center.
Almost immediately, he saw her: Red Jacket was already part way up the tower, on that level near the door. Alan ran forward, waving arms, yelling, “Hey, Red Jacket Girl; get down, where it’s safe; don’t go any higher.”
Others stared at him. But the girl had a camera, busily clicking pictures. It was noisy on the street. She leaned against the rail; something below her, catching her eye.
Alan reached the steps and started up, the girl to his left.
“Red Jacket Girl!”
She heard him and turned, but a boy on a skateboard rolled along the sidewalk and collided with the girl. Her camera flipped in the air and over the side. She grabbed for it, already unbalanced, as the boy rolled on.
She tumbled into the air.
Alan noticed someone in blue watched from the place by the trash can.
He knew his dream had just come true.
Memory banks triggered by the neon, his armour providing a cheap thrill reverberating its buzz, T-Man’s presence there, neither to prevent nor witness. Clear now.
Mission: Bring about Dorothy’s demise, Kansas’ status contingent upon it.
Literary renegade. Bitch clicked her heels more than thrice.
But at least he had the strength of three now; an enhanced cerebral cortex formulating a plan with the resolution of a lion, but did he have the heart to implement it – Double-D an attractive component.
And where was the dog? The damn dog had to be there. No, everything was wrong.
But approaching the West Tower, a searing pain stumbled him; all but lame for the bite on his leg, and then he saw her, the sexy witch mocking high upon the pinnacle. But how could she debilitate titanium so; be in two places at once?
‘Of course… the K-9! Not destroyed at all! No Toto recall in this dimension. Aunt M has been busy indeed.’
Its teeth, rhombus incisors now, it’s leg cocked against the statue of the powerless old man – the one they’d called ‘The Wiz’ – spewing contagion, transforming the pavement golden, but venomous vapours, shrinking the citizens, automatizing, forcing ceaseless, monotonous warbling alongside Broadway.
Employing his monkey-jets, flying furious as a hurricane, he pushed her, but quick as a New York pickpocket, she’d whipped off her bra, parachuting to safety, screeching at a melodic dwarf.
‘This ain’t no Emerald City; where’s the damn Space Needle?’
And she clicked her heels.
It was the first time he had been to the big city to visit his sister. She texted him that she was running late, again He decided to do a little sightseeing and people watching. “Wow, you’re not in Kansas anymore,” he thought.
He turned the corner and there it was, just like in his dreams. Over and over, night after night it was the same – he had stood on the sidewalk looking up and saw a girl in pink fall from the building. He couldn’t decide what to do. Should he call a cop? Should he look for the girl? Should he just walk away? If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a noise? If he is not there to witness it, will the girl still fall?
He ran inside the building and went up the elevator hoping to get to the top before it happened. The elevator stopped at four floors before he finally made it to the roof. He saw a huge sign that said BALLOON RELEASE PARTY. There were a few adults and a whole bunch of kids each with helium balloons. He frantically ran through the crowd looking for the girl of his dream.
A balloon popped, startling an adult who spilled hot coffee on him. He jumped backwards and bumped into someone. He turned in time to see the girl in pink fall over the edge of the building.
With every step his legs became heavier as he reached the top floor. He hit the bar on the door leading to the roof hard and stumbled out on to the observation deck, the weight of his pack nearly causing him to tumble. Righting himself he panted and saw the girl standing on the ledge only meters from were he stood exhausted from his run.
He had seen her from the street below in his dreams every night for weeks. Seen her pitch forward from the building and plummet toward the streets below. “No, wait for me,” he would shout over and over, waking himself from the dream.
“Wait,” he shouted now at the girl. As she turned toward him, he was stunned by her beauty. Her reddish brown hair and clear brown eyes momentarily made him forget all the preparations he had gone through to get here.
He adjusted his pack and removed the pilot chute, grasping it firmly and his right hand as he stepped to the ledge to join her. “Together on three?” He said nervously. She nodded before turning to face the edge. “Love at first sight was a lot like base jumping,” he thought as they glided above the street below. “You never know how you will land.”
He stood there for some time, staring up at the tower. People in the street moved on by, but he felt stuck, letting his dream replay in his mind over and over again. By the time Johnny saw the girl in the blue coat step up to the edge of the tower, at the top, he wasn’t entirely sure she was real this time.
When it finally clicked, Johnny dashed toward the tower, pushing past two tourists. He heard a camera hit the ground, a lens shattered, and there were angry shouts following him up the stairs.
“Wait!” He shouted, at the top of his voice. He hoped she heard. It would take him some time to get to the top.
By the time Johnny saw her again, he was out of breath, but relief washed over him. She had waited. She was facing him. “Why?”
“I… Don’t know.” He didn’t. He stared at her, helpless and dumbstruck. She laughed. He laughed. That was when he knew he had saved her life. Then he felt himself slipping.
When the world made sense again he was staring up at the tower from the ground. A man in a dusty suit, carrying a clipboard stood beside him. “You’re not who I was expecting. Oh well. It fills my quota. Come on.”
The man pointed up the tower. At the top someone slipped, and a woman in a blue coat tried to save him. They both fell.
The bus ride from Kansas was long; costing Carter almost every penny he had saved. Hell and damnation, I must be crazy, he thought. Why did the dream keep coming back and who was the girl? He never believed in all that weird mumbo jumbo stuff.
The noisy bus station and city smells assailed his senses. The driver told him where to find the tower shaking his head as he watched the boy make his way to the city center. Within eight blocks Carter stood in front of his dream. He thought he better find a room, who knew how long this would take?
The sign said “Rooms to let”, perfectly dead across from the tower, couldn’t be better. Tired from the trip sleep enveloped him. Sweat dripped from his face, hair soaked, eyes opened; he felt her presence. He took the hotel steps two at a time, and rushed into the busy street. He caught sight of her as she entered the tower.
Now what, what do I do? He ran wedging his hand in the elevator door; he pushed it open avoiding eye contact. The girl exited at the last floor, and then made her way up the stairs to the roof. Carter panicked and followed. Taking a cigarette from her bag, she clicked the lighter and walked to the roof’s edge. Carter screamed, rushing forward, the girl turned in time to see the boy fall to his death—spontaneity.
After experiencing the scene again and again in his dreams, those awful nightmares that drew him here to Times Square, Evan knows every detail before it happens.
A flag twisted by the wind is about to tear free of its anchor and sail away. The Diet Coke ad will morph into a pitch for regular Coke. Someone wearing a red coat on the steps ahead is going to trip but not fall. And at precisely 2:17 p.m., a girl will plummet from the tower.
Quickening his pace, he steals a glance at his watch. He has less than a minute to prevent her death. But how? The dreams haven’t revealed that piece of information.
As he sprints toward an unknown destiny, the events unfold on cue. The flag whips violently. The giant screen changes from white to red. His vision sweeps toward the red coat, but the lettering on the base of the intervening monument catches his eye and stops him short — “Father Duffy,” it reads.
He closes his eyes, envisioning the familiar image. The statue in the dreams depicted another World War I hero, Sergeant York, he’s absolutely certain. If the nightmares had been wrong about that…
Evan looks around, taking in everything. The woman in red glides down the steps without stumbling. The flag miraculously hangs on by a thread. No girl has fallen.
He checks his watch. 2:19. Feeling a mixture of relief and foolishness, he walks away. Time to go home to Kansas.
Kal looked at the flashing red numbers displayed on the digital screen clutching the tower’s side; three twelve. Four minutes until one of the pedestrians crowding the sidewalks would shout and point upward at the girl hurtling toward death on the hard, unforgiving concrete. The image of her pale blue scarf fluttering behind her was burned into his memory from the recurring nightmare. He had traveled a thousand miles to make sure the nightmare didn’t become reality.
His eyes followed the perpendicularity of the tower to its top 40 stories above. There he clearly saw what no one else did. The girl was staring over the low parapet surrounding the roof. He read the look of hopelessness in her dull blue eyes as well as if she were standing in front of him. He marked the set of her mouth; she was determined to jump.
He was the only person capable of saving her. Quickly Kal looked around. What was wrong with this city? Where were all the phone booths?
He glanced at the clock. Three fifteen. He had to find a place to change. You couldn’t just rip off your clothes in the middle of the street and leap up the side of a building wearing a blue body suit, red briefs and cape. Confound this secret identity thing.
He saw a row of Port-O-Lets next to a construction site. Kal raced toward them muttering, “Any port in a storm.”
Ads flashed on the giant screens, mesmerizing even in broad daylight. The bright blue sky did nothing to ease Carl’s tension. It was the same as his dream, all of it. The flag blowing in the wind, the coke ad, even the people walking down the street. Soon a dog walker would trip over the rottweiler’s leash. Carl closed his eyes, struggling to stay calm, but the images continued, like the nightmare he’d had for months. It always ended with a girl in a red dress falling to her death from the tower. Tormented, he finally left his Kansas farm and drove all the way to New York. He had to stop it. He had to save her.
The bottle of Coors on the screen began to pour itself into a glass. If he didn’t reach the top of the tower soon, it would be too late. He raced into the building, passed the security guard dozing at the door. Alarms began to blare as Carl charged up the stairwell. He reached the roof, lungs bursting, legs protesting. The girl in the red dress stood perched on the edge of the roof, hair blowing over her face, leaning toward her death. Carl lunged catching her ankle as she fell. He couldn’t let her die, not again.
“Let go of me you idiot. You’re spoiling the stunt.”
Carl looked down, noticing the inflated crash pad on the ground and the camera crews set up around the square. Damned psychic powers.
The tower looms ominously in front of him. As he steps into its shadow, a chill runs down his spine. Has he done the right thing by coming here all the way from Kansas? And for what? A silly dream? Not the type of dream you usually associate with a trip to New York. No thoughts of fame on Broadway or romantic notions of bright lights and a big city. Just the need to save a lost soul.
Shane looks up at the skyscraper and recalls his recurring dream. It was so vivid. The smell of car exhaust, the sound of traffic, even a car alarm going off in the distance.
Everything today is the same as in his dream. The moving billboards, the clouds, the flags blowing in the breeze, the tourists rugged up against the winter chill. He just hopes he has arrived in time to stop her.
In his dream, Shane watched that same man hand his daughter a hot dog. The girl reached out to take it but instead pointed up at the building. They all looked up to see a woman plunging to her death. Shane ran to intercept her fall. That was when he always woke up.
Shane hears the car alarm start up. Too late, she’s already falling. Here we go, he thinks, as he steps forward to claim his destiny. He reaches out to save her …
They say you can’t die in your dreams … well, you can in real life.
Comments are closed.