I have to admit that my story this week has nothing whatsoever to do with flying or anywhere I’ve been to. Instead it came from my concern that I hadn’t written a Halloween story, then realising that it was too late.
I’m enjoying experimenting with different styles and themes, and this one was a lot of fun to write. It feels like the start of a series, and I might well continue it. I’d be interested to hear your opinion.
This story is also my #fridayflash. I missed last week’s. I crossed the Atlantic 4 times in as many days, and quite frankly couldn’t muster the will!
The Mythical Creatures Emploment Exchange
In which we meet the exchange’s staff (and a very pink monster).
Fiona McAlister sprinted to the corner of the building and bent over clutching her sides. Lungs burning and blood racing, she listened for its crawling approach above the pounding of her heart.
It was there, right in front of her, in the darkness of the factory’s shadow. How could it have passed her? Its phlegm-rolling throat-breath inched closer, expiring rank carnivorous air over her face. Pulling her head back into her shoulders Fiona looked into its blood-lined yellow iris and saw her own fear reflected back. As the monster opened its mouth she closed her eyes. One, two, three, four, open.
Lying in her sweat-drenched bed Fiona caught her breath and tried to remember the nightmare. By the time she’d made coffee and showered it had already become softer around the edges and on reaching work, she had entirely forgotten the details.
A queue of shuffling cadavers greeted her at the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange; most were pleasant enough, but Zombies always unnerved her with the bits of dead flesh falling off and blood all over the lino.
‘Don’t tell me,’ she groaned at Alice, her secretary, ‘they’ve nothing to do after the Dia de Los Muertos.’
‘That’s right.’ said Alice. ‘I’ve told them we’re over-subscribed, but they just won’t listen. Actually, it’s hard finding one with ears,’ she said, looking hopefully at a male zombie groping towards her face.
‘I’m sorry guys,’ shouted Fiona, ‘but there’s nothing for you this week. They’re just not making as many zombie flicks any more. It’s vampires they’re after now.’
Fiona left Alice to deal with the disappointed undead and stopped by to say hello to her second in command; Neil’s office was opposite hers and she found him pinning a notice to his door.
‘What are you up to this morning?’ asked Fiona.
Neil pointed to the sign. “Interviewing Today: Santa’s Little Helper”.
‘Sounds like fun,’ suggested Fiona.
‘Really,’ said Neil sarcastically, ‘have you seen the idiots who’ve applied?’
Fiona glanced at the line of misfits sitting nervously down the corridor. Ghouls, witches, werewolves and assorted pumpkin-headed creatures looked back hopefully.
‘This happens every year,’ she said, ‘Nasties with nothing to do in November. I’ll deal with this lot.’ She turned to address the assembled applicants.
‘Halloween’s over guys, and if any of you had bothered to read the job description you’ll have seen that it quite clearly states that you must be of small stature and kindly disposition. If you do not match these criteria, please leave immediately.’
Most of the applicants began to leave, grumbling and muttering to themselves, leaving two terrified elves and a quivering pixie crouched in the corner.
‘That’s better,’ said Fiona, ‘we don’t want a repeat of the situation last year when the Easter Bunny stood in for the Tooth Fairy. Neither rabbit or child ever fully recovered.’
Fiona left Neil with his reduced complement of interviewees and entered her office. She poured herself a coffee and opened the mail. She had just finished reading a request from a local church for a full-time poltergeist when there was a muffled knock at the door.
‘I hope I’m not interrupting?’
Fiona looked up at the hairy monster as it held out a purple paw.
‘Stinky Snarkglob at your service,’ it said, ‘but I prefer to be called Pinky.’
‘What can I do for you, er, Mister Pinky?’
‘It’s Ms Pinky actually.’
‘I’m terribly sorry, Ms Pinky.’
‘I’m here for the recurring nightmare position.’
Fiona looked at the monster’s eyes.
‘Have we met before?’
‘I’m sorry, I can’t quite place you.’
‘Last night,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘three times.’
‘I’m not with you,’ said Fiona, utterly confused.
‘Perhaps this will help,’ said Ms Pinky.
The monster started drooling green mucus and rolling phlegm at the back of its throat whilst baring a set of razor-sharp teeth.
‘That was you!’ cried Fiona, with a shudder.
‘Indeed,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘here’s my résumé.’
Fiona spent a minute reading through the details.
‘Very impressive Ms Pinky. Although in future a simple application will suffice. No need for the practical demonstration.’
‘I do apologise,’ said the monster picking up its handbag, ‘it’s a very competitive job market, especially at this time of year, and I wanted to make a good impression.’
Fiona smiled and nodded.
‘It certainly is. I’ll be in touch.’
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