One of the most important things a writer can do to stay sharp and maintain momentum is to keep writing. Since it takes months to write a novel, I thought it would be fun to start writing something called flash fiction. Flash fiction usually refers to hypershort stories of roughly 1000 words or less. Below, you will find my first attempt at flash fiction. If it’s well received, I might start posting a new story every week. I hope you enjoy it.
Freeway to Heaven
By: TR Goodman
The sign at the side of the road says, “Alexandria, 34 miles; Fargo, 136 miles; Bismarck, 328 miles.”
God, I hate road trips.
Growing up protestant in a fairly affluent midwest suburb, I was well acquainted with the theory of some church leaders that we were living in the end times. Supposedly, just before things really hit the fan, angels or some such were supposed to descend, gather up the holy, and take us up to Heaven so we could all be safe and happy while everyone else was burned alive or forced to watch reality television all day or something.
My parents and their friends would talk about it sometimes, especially after our pastor delivered a sermon about the importance of belief and mercy for the nonbelievers. I don’t really remember much of it because I spent most of that time playing games on my phone and watching Marcie Johnson up in the third pew from the front. Hey, I’m sixteen years old and I’ve got hormones. Don’t you judge me.
In all those sermons and in all those after-church discussions, I don’t remember anyone talking about the buses.
When the day finally came for the faithful to be shipped off to Heaven, there were no rainbows, beams or golden light, choir music, or any of the stuff the old people talked about. What happened was that an angel named Steve-
By the way, who names an angel “Steve” anyway? I thought they all had names like Gabriel or Michael or Russell Crowe or something. I mean, really, Steve?
Another sign. “Alexandria, 2 miles; Fargo, 104 miles; Bismarck, 296 miles.”
Anyway, Steve showed up at our door one morning last December. I knew he was an angel right away, on account of Grandma’s shrieking and praising of God when she opened the door. She’s a smart old lady, so I figured she would know. She called everyone to the living room to introduce us. Now, I don’t claim to be any sort of church professor or Stephen Hawking or anything, but I was pretty sure that angels wore togas and had halos and glowing wings and stuff, but no, not Steve.
Steve definitely had wings. They were huge and covered with white feathers where they stuck out through the back of his uniform. As he made his way into the living room, one of them twitched and he accidentally knocked over a vase. Water splashed all over the new carpet, and even though I got screamed at last week for doing the same exact thing, good old Steve got sat down on the couch and offered some cookies while Dad cleaned it up.
Now, back to Steve’s uniform. He wore the same jacket and pants that you might expect a bus driver to wear, only his was white and had these two massive wings sticking out the back. He also gave off this kind of yellow glow. I remember thinking something about hoping he wasn’t radioactive, but mostly I was trying to figure out what he was doing checking our names off on his clipboard.
“…so, if all of you will just bundle up good and tight, we’ll be on our way. We do have a schedule to keep, after all.”
Mom, Dad, and Grandma pelted him with all sorts of questions about what we could take, what it was like where we were going, and why we needed to dress warm. Admittedly, it was damn cold outside, but we were supposed to be going to Heaven. I’m pretty sure God can afford central heating.
The only question I asked is whether or not I could bring Jones, my chihuawa. Hey, he’s tougher than most dobermans out there, so don’t you judge him. Steve shook his head and told me that another angel would be along shortly to collect all the pets and take them up to dog and cat Heaven. If he hadn’t said it like he was telling me that Jones was going to be taken to live at a farm upstate, I would have thought that it was just all the rabbits and turtles and guinea pigs were going to be screwed.
I was really starting to not like Steve.
In the end, we weren’t allowed any bags, but Mom yelled at me to go upstairs and get my heavy coat so we could get going and stop wasting the poor angel’s time. I grunted and marched up the stairs. As I was pulling on my ski jacket, Jones sat up on my bed and gave a little Yip.
“Screw Steve,” I thought. There was no way I was going to leave my best friend behind.
I warned him to be quiet, then tucked him into my jacket and went back downstairs. Mom and Dad were ready, and Dad was helping Grandma into her coat. Steve stood by the door, rocking back and forth on his feet with all the patience of a four year-old after a pound and a half of candy. When Grandma was finally ready, we went outside.
And what did we find parked by the curb, but a bus. It was huge, like one of those buses that tour groups rent, and it was painted white with shiny gold detail. The old people were shocked at the fact that they were going up to Heaven on a bus, but I thought it was right in character, considering Steve’s uniform and all.
Mom and Dad sat with Grandma up in the front, but I made my way toward the back of the bus so I could give Jones a little air. He was already squirming and trying to get out. The bus was packed, and the only open seat was right next to, yup, Marcie Johnson.
Now, here I am with my dog watching me from inside my coat and the girl of my dreams asleep beside me as we make our way to Heaven, which I guess is somewhere near Bismarck. Must be a Tuesday.
Fargo, 81 miles; Bismarck, 273 miles.
So, what did you think? Do you have any suggestions for future Flash Fiction Friday themes? Let me know in the comments below or through Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading!