Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Photo Challenge

Posted: May 29, 2015 in Fiction, Flash Fiction Challenge
Tags: ,

This week’s FFC over at terribleminds involves using a randomizing feature at Flickr called “Interestingness” to find a picture to serve as a prompt. I came across a picture titled “Kermit needs to cross” and found it just odd enough to get my brain spinning in a vaguely Lovecraftian direction. So, I present “It’s Not Easy”:

It started when I saw the frog crossing the street.

It was easily seven feet tall, walking on its hind legs, with a body made of felt. It took me less than a second to realize that it was a person in a costume, mind you, but that didn’t strip away the surreality of the vision I beheld while walking down the busy thoroughfare. I slowed in my steps to watch the bulbous, fabric head twist left, then right, then left again as the ranine figure stepped off of the curb and into the street. Pausing in my own gait, I glanced around, noting that no one else seemed to be giving the frog any mind whatsoever.

Perhaps it was some kind of street performer or entertainer, one with whom I was unfamiliar but the other pedestrians knew. I shrugged minutely to myself and took a step to resume my walk, when the frog’s bulbous eyes turned toward me with their black, cross-shaped pupils. There was something in that blank, glassy stare that disturbed me, that made my bowels feel like they had gone all liquid and had elicited goose-pimples all over my flesh.

A bus howled by, obscuring my vision of the costumed figure for the briefest of moments, but once it had passed I found that the frog was gone.

I continued hurriedly on my way and tried to put the incident out of my mind.

The next day, I woke from a dreamless sleep with a sense of unease that I tried to ignore. I showered and ate, distracting myself from the nebulous oppression that seemed to hang over my thoughts like a Sword of Damocles with the gentle susurrus of the morning’s news playing on the radio. But, as I stepped down onto the sidewalk outside of my apartment building, my gaze was attracted to a jogger. He ran with his face canted toward the pavement and I could not see it, as well there was something about the way he held himself that sat oddly with me. I watched him as he passed by and continued up the street, my skin crawling in his wake.

What was it about these two travelers that sat so unwholesomely with me? I pondered the question as I walked to the subway station, descending into the cold earth beneath the hot city’s skin of cement, steel, and asphalt. The incidents and their attendant questions so consumed my mind that I was oblivious to my train arriving, only noticing it as I looked up from the platform to see its doors close and the great mechanical beast emit a hiss of compressed air before it started down the tracks. Swearing to myself, I half-rose from my seat but stopped myself and sank back into it. I would have to wait for the next train, which would make me late for work, but there was simply nothing that I could do about it.

I sat there as people trickled onto the platform from the streets above, waited, then boarded their trains. After the third train came through, the platform was mostly empty and I sat watching the tracks without actually paying them much attention. I began to hum softly, a song I remembered from my childhood about rainbows, and it took me a few moments to realize that I had started humming because I heard the soft strumming of a banjo coming from one of the tunnels. I looked up and down the platform around me, wondering if anyone else heard the sound as I did. But I found that I was alone except for a man standing at the far end of the platform away from me, half eclipsed in shadow, his face hidden from my gaze as he looked toward the tunnel from which the music came.

I rose and slowly made my way toward him, struggling to find my voice as I felt my flesh pimple in response to the chills that began to run up and down my spine. I should have been more cognizant, more aware, if I had been I would have noticed the running clothes that he wore. I would have noticed that he was the jogger who had passed me earlier, but I did not. I carefully stepped over a puddle of some liquid that lay near the edge of the platform and tapped the man on his shoulder, finding my throat dry and tight as I tried to speak.

He turned and…

And his face was a hollow and empty void.

I screamed shrilly and backed away from him as quickly as I could, feeling my feet slide out from underneath me as I slipped in the nearby pool. My head smacked against the edge of the platform and the wind was knocked from me as I felt myself roll into empty space. Stars had already burst across my vision as I felt myself hit the earth below the platform, they were added to as my head hit the metal track and I moaned in pain. I don’t know how long I lay there, but I know that as my thoughts coalesced once more I became aware of a vibration thrumming through the ground beneath me. Lifting my head, I saw two white pinpoints of light in the distant darkness of the tunnel as the sound of the banjo strumming became louder and louder in my ears. As they grew closer the lights expanded in size and I could see darkness in their centers: a black cross lodged within the circle of white light.

I do not remember what happened next. I only know that I woke later, in the hospital bed, a web-work of tubes and sensors weaved around my body. I will grow used to the loss of my arm, eventually, but I fear that I will never escape the soft sound of the banjo that haunts me as I slip into the embrace of sleep, nor the silhouette of the frog that lingers at the edge of my vision when I wake.

  1. Nicely done–your writing evokes the surreal terror that being stalked by a Muppet surely would bring.

  2. OMFG.
    HP has nothing on you. This completely gave me the wiggins, and has me laughing nervously. I love it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.