Flash Fiction Challenge: The Fruits of His Labors

IMG_1679 fruit at ladells 03212015 Flash Fiction prompt all rights reserved KSBROOKS
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

The poison was only in one of the fruits. Of course, it was not enough to kill – only to make the person who ingested it acutely ill. Then Michael would swoop in and save the day.

Yes, Michael was a very promising medical student. He believed that “saving” the life of one of the faculty spouses attending the party would earn him the special favor and  attention he so deserved.

He just forgot one simple rule: some people are more sensitive to chemical compounds than others…

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. 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 Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Tuesday night, judges will select the strongest entries, and on Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. 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. Please note the rule changes for 2015.

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: The Fruits of His Labors”

  1. Cigarette smoke filled the room, forcing Michael’s eyes to water behind his thick rimmed glasses. Doctors were committed to valuing human life but this group didn’t seem to mind sending their own lives up in smoke.

    The fruit platter looked awkward on the table, surrounded by ashtrays and emptied wine glasses. Michael gazed intently at the lemon, his yellow mascot for the evening. Its citrus depths had willingly accommodated the poison. His hand reached for the lemony threat, gripping it tightly, weighing the potential danger.

    A couple of deep breaths would steady his shaky nerves. His timing was unfortunate. An incoming gulp of air brought with it a stale puff of smoke from a nearby smoker. Michael’s hand went to his mouth, trying to contain the bark like cough. The lemon slipped through his fingers. He noticed a grey haired man watching him choke and gasp. The need for fresh air led him to an open window while the cough rattled his upper body.

    As he struggled to breathe, an urgent tap on his shoulder made him turn. The grey haired man stood behind him, an outstretched hand offering Michael something to drink. It was an offer too good to resist. He gulped the cool liquid as its tangy sweetness soothed his burning throat. The man placed a tiny object on the windowsill and walked away.

    Michael undid the wad of tissue to find the remains of a spent lemon. A pair of smiling eyes watched him pass out.

  2. Right on cue, Michael’s ex-lover, Natalie, arrived with her spouse, Jeffery, for Michael’s Christmas Margarita Party. Mikey was so pleased with himself having discovered his rival, Jeffery, was allergic to citrus. Thus, making Jeffery, the perfect target for Mikey’s fake rescue poison pear plot, to impress and get Natalie, his ex-lover back.
    Soon, Jeffery was loudly complaining, “Natalie! It was a stupid idea to come here! There’s nothing I can drink! Everything is poison to me!”
    Very calmly and loving Natalie cooed “Jeffery dearest it’s all righty, I can make a Peach Bellini drinky, winky, without the lemon juicy, ok?”
    Jeffery pouted back “Ok,” with that Natalie grabbed the pear from the bowl and ran off into the kitchen. Soon, she brought out the drinky, winky, and handed it to Jeffery. Halfway through he doubled over in pain … collapsing … dead.
    While police lead Michael away in cuffs, Natalie’s tears streamed down her face. Hysterically, she screamed “Murderer, how could you poison my Hubby?” Sobbing uncontrollably, whimpering “I didn’t know the pear was poisoned, I loved my Hubby.”
    As the policewoman consoled her, Natalie was so pleased that she had snuck over earlier and saw through the window perfect little Mikey injecting the pear. Later, no one paid any attention when she found and poured the rest of the bottle into Jeffery’s drinky, winky. She smirked as she wiped the fake tears from her cheek, smugly thinking “Merry Christmas to me, and a partridge killed in a pear tree.”

  3. ***FINALIST***

    Michael carefully injected the ripe pear with the toxin and slid it back onto the platter. He delighted in the fact that the smug Professor Johnson’s wife chose that particular fruit. Sipping his wine he waited eagerly for the opportunity to prove his worth, while gripping the syringe that held the antidote tightly in his tuxedo pocket.
    As the crowd witnessed Mrs. Johnson’s collapse onto the ballroom floor, Michael rushed to her side. Kneeling next to the unconscious woman he covertly stabbed the needle into her thigh, emptying its contents. All he had to do now was wait while simulating attempts to revive her. Soon he would be basking in the glory and admiration he so deserved.
    Surrounded by the entire faculty, he waited for the woman to regain consciousness. Seconds ticked by but her body remained a lifeless lump. Sweat beaded on his brow as he frantically continued to breathe into the dead women’s mouth. He was confident that he had minimized the risk with the small dosage of toxin. His splintered mind battled to form some sort of rationalization. Something had gone terribly wrong.
    The frenzied crowd became alarmed and hysteria surrounded Michael. Paramedics arrived and pulled him from the corpse as a grief stricken Professor Johnson shouted. “Michael! She’s gone! You tried son, you tried.”
    A sickly yet satisfied smile formed on Michael’s lips. “Yes Professor, I did try. I was the only one who tried!” He said, enjoying his rightful praise. “The only one.”

  4. ***FINALIST***

    As Professor Jacob’s wife bit into the last pear in the basket, Michael couldn’t help but grin. It had to be the one he’d poisoned and had delivered anonymously earlier today. All he had to do was wait for her to get sick, then swoop in and save her with the antidote hidden in his ring. Professor Jacob would shower him with praise and get him the internship he wanted. He’d become a hero, the top medical student.

    It didn’t take long for a reaction. Mrs. Jacob began to gag. Foam sprayed from her mouth. Michael rushed forward to work his magic. Everything was going according to plan. That is until he reached Mrs. Jacobs. Her petite hand clamped around his wrist. Nothing in her appearance hinted at the strength that now cut off the circulation to his fingers.

    “You tried to poison us.”

    Words stuck in his throat. “What… no… I can help….”

    Her lips curled back. Long white fangs lined her mouth and her usually blue eyes turned amber. “Then why was your scent all over the fruit?”

    “You measured the poison for an adult,” said Professor Jacob. “But our housekeeper’s daughter was only eight. You’ll pay for her death.”

    Michael’s stomach clenched. Dozens of amber eyes glared at him. Growls rumbled around the room amidst fur and sharp teeth. Somebody cranked the music loud enough to make the champagne glasses shake. It drowned out his screams as the pack took their revenge.

  5. This was probably the best plan he’d ever come up with.

    The sous chef he’d paid to tamper with the fruit plate didn’t even know what she was doing. She just thought she was adding a special nutrient one of the directors developed. No one would have any idea.

    Any moment now, it would take effect and Michael could go into action and secure a coveted position in the hospital. He carefully selected a plate of his own, making sure not to take any of the melons. He wasn’t 100% sure which one was tainted since there were three varieties and he hadn’t wanted the woman to get suspicious, but that was no matter.

    Just as he was taking a bite of his orange slice, he heard the first choking gasp off to the side. He’d give it a few minutes to let the faculty – those more “knowledgable” – try and fail to help her before coming to the rescue.

    But when he turned around, he gasped, just as horrified as the rest of the spectators. It was the Dean’s wife, her face swollen purple and tongue hanging out. And others were falling beside her.

    That was NOT supposed to happen.

    Turning back, he looked closer at the melons and saw tiny black dots appearing on the flesh. He hadn’t known. The poison was adversely reacting with the juices.

    When no one was looking, he quietly slipped out of the room, trying to remember the name of his lawyer.

  6. ***FINALIST***

    Michael had been over the plan several times. Inject the lime and be nearby when it was sliced and squeezed into the beer bottle. He had even prepared his hero’s speech.

    “Oh, it was nothing. Anyone here would have done the same.”

    At best, the council would name a wing of the hospital after him. At worst? He’d score major points with the attractive classmate he convinced to come with him to the party. Either way, he was going to be the big winner tonight.

    That’s how the plan should have gone until he became so distracted by thoughts of grandeur he didn’t notice, in time, the slice of lime at the bottom of the bottle Jessica handed him.

    This wasn’t right. He knew he used the correct dosage.

    Slight paralysis of the vocal chords was symptom one.

    Number two, some motor function loss. Michael tried to open and close his hands. No luck.

    Number three? Michael didn’t want to think about number three.

    Jessica wrapped him in her arms.

    Michael tried to return the embrace, but couldn’t move. He felt Jessica lean into him.

    “I found the vial in your pocket and switched it out for my own. Maybe people will give me the attention I deserve. I might even get some paid time off for this. You know, to grieve your death.”

    Michael moved his lips to speak. It was too late.

  7. The night had gone fairly well. Michael had kept his eye on the basket of fruit, ready to swoop in at the first sign of trouble. Though in hindsight he realized he shouldn’t have dosed the orange. It wasn’t just the citric acid that intensified the power of the “treatment.” He hadn’t counted on it being shared.

    Eleanor Strickland, the wife of Governor Strickland had taken the orange. He hadn’t known who she was. At least not till he saw her sharing the segments with her husband. They didn’t even finish it.

    Within minutes of each of them eating the first segment, they had both gone into convulsions. The spontaneous attack sent the entire room into chaos. As Mrs. Strickland sent projectile vomit at the hostess of the evening, other guests followed suit.

    People were screaming, and running, and demanding restitution. At first the shrimp took the blame and those who had eaten ran to the bathrooms en masse.

    Michael took advantage of the chaos to clean up the offending orange and discard it. But as he dropped it into the trash, Dean Thompson stopped him.

    “Hand it over young man,” he said. His grey brows furrowed in judgment.

    “I never meant for it to come to this.”

    A wicked smile filled Dean Thompson’s face. “Oh, the stuffed shirts have had this coming for quite some time.” He took the orange and wrapped it in a napkin then shoved it into a coat pocket.

  8. The dryer slammed against the laundry room wall in rhythm to Michael’s thrusting and the party music upstairs. Then the music stopped and so did he.

    “Well, that was a bit aggressive,” said Melinda as she zipped her boots.

    “Enthusiastic,” he said.

    She grabbed her wine and took a sip. “I better get back before Dave misses me. Don’t leave your drink down here.”

    Hospital Administrator Dave doesn’t even know his wife is gone, he thought.

    “I gotta be there when he makes the Joe Bloeberg announcement.”

    I deserve that promotion, not Joe Blow.

    Consequently, he took his anger out on the boss’ wife.

    Michael returned to his real estate at the bar and asked for a Sangria. He removed a zip bag with the sliced orange soaked with Ipicac. “She’ll puke her guts out and I’ll come to the rescue, the only one who will know what’s going on. I’m the competent one. And then Joe-Blow-Shmoe is no longer Assistant Hospital Administrator.”

    He sidled up to Melinda and handed her the Sangria, “Special. For you.” She held the glass and watched as Michael twirled his White Russian with his finger and licked it clean.

    His tongue and face itched. Weird, he thought. Then he couldn’t breathe and he fell to the floor.

    “Sensitive to the peanut oil I slipped into your drink, Mike? Allergic are we?” She leaned in close, “You scum. I’m no Revenge Bang. And with all these doctors here, who would question your tragic, accidental death?”

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