I wrote this Flash Fiction/Weird Fiction for a submission call that I saw, asking for a piece featuring a villain. I like to think that most villains are not easy to spot, and so I wrote a piece with a perky supernatural “villain” – who exists by stealing time from the living. (I got a very nice rejection letter and will probably craft more pieces to send to them in the future). I hope you enjoy this.
Jenna was a perky blonde twenty-something who moved from a big city back east to a small Texas town after making some life “mistakes” and deciding to start over. She loved her job at the little coffee shop in the center of town. It was a perfect gig. It was always busy, relatively happy and the time seemed to fly by.
She enjoyed her boss, Brenda, her co-workers and her ‘regulars’ – even the folks who were just passing through and stopped in. And they all loved her. In fact it was often remarked upon by customers and her co-workers, that the place just seemed happier with her in it.
Of course, all good things usually come to an end, and one day an elderly gentleman whom no one had seen before came into the coffee shop. Jenna looked up and recognition flashed across her face and he spotted her at the same time.
Jenna flew around the counter, taking the old man by surprise, as she squealed “Grampy!” and grabbing him into a tight hug, she whispered in his ear “please, not here.”
Pulling her arms from around him, he said loudly “Honey, let me look at you” in order to get a look at her name tag.
“Jenna, honey, it has been too long.” he said with a steely glint in his eyes that only she could see. And then added, “You look just like your mother – LeeAnn.”
Her co-workers all beamed at what they thought was a family reunion. Jenna’s boss was approaching as Jenna was saying, “My shift will be over in a couple of hours, where are you staying and I’ll meet up with you after work…”
“Nonsense,” Brenda chimed in, “Y’all must have loads to catch up on. We can handle it here – you go on ahead and visit.”
“That’s very kind of you,” Agent Harris, now known as Grampy, said. “I have travelled a long way to see my granddaughter.”
“You’re sure?” Jenna asked. Brenda nodded, smiling. “Okay, I’ll just get my things.”
“Thank you, Ma’am,” Agent Harris nodded.
Jenna grabbed her purse, and she left with “Grampy” to the waves and smiles of the patrons and workers. They walked down the street arm in arm.
“How’d you find me, Agent Harris?” she finally asked.
“I looked for emancipated youth from the area with an active SS number. I wasn’t sure, but I figured that most kids stay put or head to big cities and don’t work regular jobs – so even if they have an SS number they won’t be filing taxes, so I followed up on the ones that came to small towns and got actual jobs. ‘Jenna Randall’ was number seven on my list.”
“Lucky number seven,” Jenna murmured, then “How did you survive? No offense, but usually the number of years is enough to jumpstart the decomposition process – so if the shock doesn’t kill, the sudden breakdown of the cells – does.”
“I’m alive – that’s all I know. The agency didn’t know what to do with me, since technically I am 34 – but physically somewhere in my 80’s or 90’s – they put me through a crap load of medical tests – but no answers to anything…so they put me on disability and you became my ‘hobby’.”
“And what happens now? Are you going to arrest me?” She asked.
They had come to a little block sized park, with trees and benches and a little fountain in the middle of it. Agent Harris motioned to the benches, and they went to sit.
“You know as well as I do, that there is no forensic evidence that ties you to the series of deaths I was investigating. You were a hunch, at least until you did this to me – Jenna or is it LeeAnn or – what is your name?” he said after they sat.
“I don’t remember my original name. It has been a very long time since I used it. And if you aren’t going to arrest me, then why track me down?”
“I have questions.” he said.
“Okay – ask.”
“How many? Besides the ones I was investigating – I mean. ”
“Too be honest, I don’t remember. They all blur together.”
“And the euphoria? While you were draining my life away, I felt like I was high. You were doing it in the coffee shop, weren’t you? Draining their lives away…I could feel it when I came in.”
“Yes, but not all at once, like snacking to prevent my hunger from getting out of hand. I’m just taking a few seconds or a few minutes here and there. They won’t even notice it.”
“And the fact that there are very few transients in this little town?”
“Well, a girl’s gotta have a real meal sometimes.”
“What are you?” he finally whispered, feeling that familiar euphoria sliding through his soul.
“What am I? Hungry, Agent Harris, and I thank you for your time.” Jenna smiled and watched as Agent Harris and his clothing crumbled to dust and blew away.