Flash Fiction Challenge: Fairy Tales Remixed

Posted: January 31, 2014 in Fiction, Flash Fiction Challenge
Tags: ,

This week’s challenge was to take a fairy tale and spin it anew by throwing a different genre onto the traditional narrative, thanks to a roll of a d20. I rolled “cyberpunk” and after glancing through a list of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” over at wikipedia, decided upon “The Three Little Men in the Wood”:

    Glory made a disgusted sound as she stepped around a dead rat lying in a puddle of what she hoped was vomit in the middle of the long-neglected and horrendous hallway. To say that the corridor – which stretched on for what looked like a mile to the young woman – was in disrepair was an understatement: lights on the walls and in the ceiling flickered or were completely shattered, their light long-gone; the walls and carpet were stained a variety of different substances, most of which Glory didn’t want to investigate or ponder on as she made her way past door after door after door. Through the walls and behind the doors she could hear the blaring of stereos, of trash shows playing on holo-sets, of people fighting and yelling at each other. The wail of a baby made the young woman flinch and close her eyes for a long second, pausing in her stride as a chill ran down her spine, before she continued on with a muttered curse.

    “Fucking Beverly.”

    Her bitch of a stepmother had sent her out on this errand, this suicide mission into one of the worst blocks of the Western Allegheny Metroplex, known colloquially as “the Wood” since it had been built on what had once been a pristine State Forest. Glory’s story was one so old and cliched it was almost stereotype: her mother had died when she was young, her father had remarried a woman who had been all sweet words and smiles before the nuptials but had turned into a cock-juggling thunder-cunt as soon as the honeymoon was over. Beverly had her own daughter, a snotty narcissist named Meg who did everything she could to make Glory know that she was the “Alpha” and Glory the “Beta” in their little dynamic. And both newcomers to her family made it quite clear that had no deep interest in Glory or her father, just her father’s money.

    But, while Glory’s father was a smart man and a sweet man, he wasn’t an overly wise man. No matter what Glory said or did, he couldn’t see past the smiles and cleavage that Beverly flashed him or hear the venom running underneath the honeyed-words she whispered to him. As the months had slowly turned into years, Glory had given up on making her father see the reality of Beverly and Meg, and had taken the tact of simply trying to comply with their demeaning requests enough to not make her life even more hellish.

    And so she found herself walking down a trash-strewn hallway in the middle of the Wood, looking for a hook-up on some “strawberries” for Beverly.

   Glory’s eyes flashed to the door numbers on either side, biting her lower lip anxiously as she sought out the apartment that Beverly’s dealer supposedly lived at. Part of Glory was unsure if Beverly even had the right place to begin with and another part of her figured that this whole endeavor might just be a plan for Beverly to off a rival inheritor of her father’s wealth by getting Glory killed by some drug dealers.

    “Eighty-three-five-four-two, eighty-three-five-four-three, eighty-three-five-four-four,” Glory whispered softly to herself. She held her purse tighter against her side, keenly aware of the moisture on her palms and the voice at the back of her head telling her to activate her phone by pressing her thumb and pinky finger together. But, Glory took a breath, calming herself, and kept going. Turning tail in a panic and running back home would only piss Beverly off even more. It was best to keep her courage and press on until the job was done.

    She stopped outside of a door that had the numbers 86975 scrawled at chest-height in white ink, paused for a beat, then rapped her knuckles on the surface. Seconds ticked by glacially, Glory flinching when she heard a bang and a racket of some kind come from one of the apartments farther on down the hall. An eon later the door to 86975 cracked open to reveal the face of a short man with a week-old beard peering up at her.

    “Who are you?” He asked, narrowing his eyes slightly. “What do you want?”

    “A-are you Maxwell?” Glory responded nervously.

    “‘Maxwell’?” The short man asked, quirking an eyebrow. “I don’t know no Maxwell.”

    Glory bit her lip again. “You’re sure?” She asked. “I’m…uh…supposed to get some…’produce’ from him for Bev–” She stopped herself. “For…uh…for my step-mom.”

    The quirked eyebrow stayed firmly in place as the man stared at her for a long moment, then shrugged. “Come on in, sweetie,” he said, with a tone that sounded oddly like compassionate resignation, and let the door swing inward as he stepped backward. Glory’s mind immediately went to the roll of money in her purse as she stood there on the threshold, feeling her heart stop for a split-second in her chest. The moment passed and Glory found herself stepping into the apartment.

    There was a ratty old couch along one wall, wires ran in messy bundles snaking this way and that across the old, stained carpet, connecting a variety of humming, blinking machinery. Another man, equally as short as the first but with shaggy hair sat on the couch, his fingers waggling in the air meaningfully as he stared into the air, colored lights flashing across his eyeballs.

    “Who’s at the door?!” The voice came from an adjoining room a second before another short man popped his head out of the doorway. “Who’s that?”

    The first man shrugged. “Don’t know her name, but she’s here to pick something up from Maxwell.”

    The third man furrowed his eyebrows. “Maxwell hasn’t lived here in six months.”

    Glory looked between the two speakers. “Wait. I thought you–”

    The first small man shrugged. “You’re looking to score some drugs and you’re surprised by deception and evasiveness?”

    Glory shook her head. “No! I mean, they’re not for me–”

    The third man flashed a grin at the first one. “She’s a delightful one.”

    “If Maxwell isn’t here anymore, where can I find him?” Glory asked with a sigh.

    “Now, why would you want to go hunting a man like Maxwell down?” The first man asked.

    Without thinking Glory dug into her purse and pulled out the roll of money that Beverly had given her for the pills, those little red and white pills that she loved so much. “Because! Because… “ She sighed, feeling futility weigh upon her. “Because, I’m better off hunting him down to make my step-mom happy for even a moment than I am going back to her empty-handed.” Her chin quivered and Glory wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand, turning away from the men, so as to save herself the embarrassment of crying in front of them.

    The first man cleared his throat after a moment. “Look…we could use some help making rent,” he said slowly. “How about you give us some of that money and we could point you in the direction of Maxwell, eh?”

    Glory turned back to look at them, the second man on the couch now looking at her with his full attention. “I…I guess I could,” she said with a shrug and a sniffle. She pulled off several large bills from the roll and handed it to the first man. Smiling, he inclined his head to her and pocketed the cash.

    “Why don’t you go clean up your face in the bathroom, sweetie,” the man said, patting Glory’s arm gently and guiding her across the apartment toward a closed door.

    “Thank you,” Glory said, sniffling once again as she entered the bathroom and slid the door closed behind her. She splashed water on her face and dried herself off with a towel, staring for a long moment into the mirror at herself. The moment passed and Glory sniffed one last time, turning slightly to slip the towel back onto its hook. As it caught and swished against the bathroom wall, her gaze slipped down into a small, open trash can that sat next to the toilet. At the bottom of it were three medicine bottles, each one filled with small pills that made her eyes widen. Bending down, Glory retrieved one and opened it. Inside were a handful of red and white speckled pills.

    “Strawberries,” she said softly in astonishment as she heard hushed whispering on the other side of the thin bathroom door. Quickly, Glory scooped up the other two and deposited all three into her purse, before slipping back out of the bathroom.

    “How are you, dear?” The first of the three small men asked her once she’d emerged.

    “I-I’m feeling better, thank you very much,” she said.

    “Good,” the man said with a friendly grin. He paused a beat before continuing. “We’ve conferred amongst ourselves and decided to do you a spot better than telling you where to find Maxwell. No, that wouldn’t do for someone as kind and generous as you’ve proven to be.” He snapped his fingers and that other two stepped up alongside him.

    “First,” said the third man, who had finally entered the room, producing a small black box from behind his back. “A make-up kit to make you the rival the most stunning models and celebrities. Every time you use it, you’ll look even more beautiful than the previous time.”

    “Second,” piped up the man who had been sitting on the couch, “I’ve hacked into your social media profiles–”

    “What?! How?!” Glory gasped, shocked, but the man continued on unabated.

    “And set it up that every time you post something, you’ll generate money,” the small man said with a grin. “It was quite easy, I just hijacked some advertising–” He was interrupted by the first man, who dismissed him with a wave of his hand.

    “Finally,” the first man said, holding up a small card between two of his fingers, “I have a standing reservation set up for you at the nicest restaurant in the WAM. Should you ever feel lonely and desiring of love’s embrace, I have a feeling that you’ll meet your Prince Charming there.”

    Stunned, Glory wordlessly accepted the two objects from the small men, holding them to her bosom. “Th-thank you,” she stammered. “I don’t know what else to say.”

    “There’s nothing else to say,” the first man replied. “You seem like you deserve so kindness, dear. Just use our gifts to good ends.”

    The led her back to the front door and ushered her back out into the hall with a trio of smiles and kind words bidding her safely on her way. After the door closed behind her, Glory contemplated the black make-up box and the stiff card in her hands for a long moment, before carefully placing them in her purse. She closed the bag with a metallic click and, feeling strangely optimistic, headed back home.

 

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