Friday last, Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds issued a Flash Fiction challenge; 1,000 words about death. The winner gets a pony. Well, not a pony. How about a copy of Blackbirds, in e-format? It’s almost nothing like a pony. According to MS Word (don’t judge) what follows is my thousand words, about “Cookies.”
“Mister, I’m telling you, these are your cookies!”
The little girl’s voice was piercing and cut through Albert’s head like a band saw. He was decidedly unwell and had been that way since he staggered out of bed this morning. His body hurt from the medication and his eyes from the unrelentingly bright sunlight. This little monster had roused him from a mid-morning, recovery siesta on the sofa. Her pounding on the front door had felt like clubs to his head.
“No,” he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “They’re not my cookies. I didn’t order any!” He leaned against the front door frame and could feel the terry cloth beginning to rub a patch on his shoulder raw. He was on a self-imposed, strict diet. No sweets. No sense getting into trouble, especially this morning with his stomach threatening to revolt.
The girl stood unwaveringly on his front stoop, almost mocking his resolve. The green in her scout uniform was a bit drabber than he remembered from last year when he had been ambushed by an assortment of brightly uniformed young ladies as he left the grocery store. But the way fashions changed these days, it’d probably be a different color next year, he was sure. Her sash had several rows of merit badges. They seemed to blur together but two stood out. One badge looked like a toolbox; another, like a stylized horn.
Her tiny form blocked the path to his walkway. One little hand was poised on her cocked hip and the other thrust towards his face. That hand held a box of “Devil’s Food” cookies; some vile concoction made with overly thinned milk chocolate; watery, shredded coconut, and cinnamon. The smell was sharp with sugar. It made his mouth involuntarily water.
“Look mister, I’m not just giving these away. This box is yours.”
Albert rubbed his face and sighed. His sour belly gurgled at him, sharp gas pains almost causing him to double over. He really didn’t want any cookies. They weren’t good for him. He was having a hard enough time with his issues as it was. With his doctor constantly warning him about his predilection for sweets, he didn’t need to eat an entire box of cookies, even the micro size kind the Scouts were selling now-a-days. Once he started, he knew he wouldn’t have the self control to stop. Besides, the medication had caused him to all but lose his taste for confections of all sorts anyway.
“Where is your parent?” The girl frowned a little, tucked a wisp of long, blonde hair behind her ear, bit her lip and tempted him with the box, shaking it at him. He tried again.
“How about your Troop Leader? Where is she?”
“Oh, she’s around,” the little girl replied. “Now, mister; you need to take these cookies!” Her insistence caused her forehead to wrinkle, her sparkling blue eyes hooded with intensity.
It seemed the only way he was going to get rid of her was to eat her cookies. Fine. He had been patient. He’d told her he didn’t want them. But she insisted; she wanted him to have them. And he really had been good about the whole thing. Clearly, he owed himself a treat.
“All right, young lady,” he said, drawing himself up and tightening his robe. He tried to ignore the twinges in his middle, and turned towards his kitchen in the back of the house. He had a very sharp knife there, perfect for cutting cookies. “If you’ll come with me, I’ll see to it that you are paid.”
Albert had only taken a couple of steps when he noticed he wasn’t being followed. He turned back towards the door, in annoyance. Now that he had decided he wanted the cookies, he was going to have them, pains in his stomach or not.
“What is it, young miss?” Albert asked with asperity. He immediately softened, “I don’t even know your name? What is it?”
“It’s Gabby. Are you going take these cookies or what?”
“Well, Gabby, if you’ll please come to the kitchen, I’ll be happy to pay you!” He remembered something and smiled a little smile. “I have a kitten you can pet.”
“No, you don’t,” the girl said matter-of-factly. “It ran out. This isn’t going to be like last time. I told you, these are your cookies. You have all ready paid for them.”
“Look,” Albert barked. “I’ve had about enough of this. Before you showed up, I’d never laid eyes on your cookies, I certainly didn’t order any! And since I didn’t order any, I couldn’t have paid for them, could I? But, now that you have taunted with them, I have decided that I do want them. So, come here and give them to me!”
As he was speaking the last, Albert took two quick steps toward Gabby and grabbed at her arm … and missed. He fell, face-first, onto the floor, cracking his head on the hard wood. His insides were on fire! He could hardly draw breath.
From his prone position, he could see into his kitchen. What were his house shoes doing back there? And whose feet were they on?
“Get up,” Gabby said, hauling him to his feet with one arm. “Go take a look.”
Gingerly, Albert made his way to the kitchen. There, in one corner, lay a crumpled and bloody Gabby, her throat slit. In her hand was a gore covered screw driver. In the other corner lay … himself! Cookie cutting knife in one hand and half a dozen holes in his middle.
“How,” Albert began.
“Always grabbing first. All of them said you always grabbed first. So, I had my screw driver ready, but you hurt me anyway. They did let me come back to give you your cookies, though. Here,” she said, opening the container that was quivering in her hand. “They like Devil’s Food and they’re real excited to eat you!”