Troping the Light Fantastic (Flash Fiction)

Author’s note: This is my flash fiction for September’s entry of the 2020 Flash Fiction Challenge. Each month of 2020, on the first Monday, I’ll draw cards to determine the genre, setting, and an object that has to appear in the short story. Participants will have until the following Monday to link their stories to the blog post I put out each month. Then I’ll do a follow-up post and share the stories that have come in (before the deadline). It’s only for fun and non-competitive.

September’s draw results: (genre) YA, (setting) a warehouse, and (object) a lone shoe or boot.

Hope you enjoy my entry: Troping the Light Fantastic

Tierney and Trevor, the twins with Intelligence of Immeasurable Value, found themselves unable to resist exploring the abandoned warehouse on Old Moffat Rd., which perhaps defied their intelligence quotient, but curiosity had gotten the better of them. Ginger heads almost touched while blue eyes ravenously examined the blueprint Tierney had concocted from her brother’s research.

“This is gonna be epic,” she said, then checked to see if her flashlight still worked. It did. So far, so good.

Trevor held onto the blueprint, upon which a bright red path had been traced. “Okay, so according to my calculations, the phony entrance is here, and—”

“BURRRRRRP!”

The brother’s shoulder slumped as he looked ahead, unimpressed by this inevitable disturbance.

“Burner, why are you?”

Blaine Burner must have been the jockiest jock who’d ever donned a jockstrap. Star quarterback, a shoo-in for prom king, and Daddy’s Special Guy Who Totally Deserved That Porsche, he’d never missed an opportunity to flex his biceps and torment “losers.” He stood with his tanned arms folded across his red and blue team jersey. A raven-black cowlick fell over his right eye.

“Heading for the bonfire in my honour, what else?”

“Ah, so they’re sacrificing virgins this year,” said Tierney, tapping her flashlight like a security baton.

Burner grimaced. It had gotten around that he’d chickened out with Felicity at the A-lister’s house party, and he’d taken great pains to make sure he had annihilated her truth with a whopping pack of lies, fueled of course, by his great big fragile masculinity.

“No, they can’t be, because you’re not at the stake, Ugly.”

“Oh no, Burner thinks I’m ugly. Let me go die now. Or not. Because I don’t care.”

The quarterback scowled.

“Okay, we’re wasting time. Let’s go, sis.” Trevor grabbed Tierney’s arm and pulled her forward.

“Ow, dude!” she cried.

“Sorry,” he let go. “I didn’t mean to yank you.”

“Yeah, do that again, and I’ll wallop you.”

Trevor sighed.

“Wait!” said Burner.

Tierney turned the flashlight on him.

“AH!” He crossed his hands over his eyes. “Could you not?”

She turned it off again. “What is it?”

He squinted, then blinked. “Where are you guys going?”

“Nowhere,” said Trevor. “Come on, Tiern.”

“Why the map?” asked Burner.

“Go away.”

The twins ignored further questions and examined what seemed to be a window boarded up with brick.

“Yup, this is it,” confirmed Tierney.

“What’s what?” asked a sing-songy voice.

Trevor looked away from the building as Stacey Amesley, Fashionista Extraordinaire, clicked down the sidewalk in couture stilettoes, dressed like a model fresh off a fashion shoot. Her cherry-red manicure brushed blond wavy hair from her eyes. Overhead lighting from the warehouse shone upon her like a spotlight. Trevor dropped his map and swooned.

Tierney clucked her tongue and picked up the blueprint, then smacked her brother’s arm. “Wake up, genius!”

He was still transfixed on Stacey, who smiled brightly, then she turned her nose up at Burner.

“Hi, baby,” the quarterback waved sheepishly.

“Eat a bag of dicks,” said Stacey.

“Aw, come on, babe. You’re not still mad? I promise, that was innocent flirting!”

Tierney smirked as she felt the mortar for a way into the secret passage. “I’m gonna go with Stacey’s recommendation, Burner. No need to even know any further details about what you did.”

“Hi, Stacey,” said Trevor, shyly. “You look really pretty.”

She walked over to him and took his arm, lifting her chin at Burner. “Thanks. Shall we head over to the bonfire? Or would you prefer somewhere else?”

Trevor’s eyes went painfully wide. “Um, uh, I-I-uh…”

“Seriously?” cried Tierney. “I’m totally doing this alone?” She slammed the window-wall with her flashlight and everything began to give way.

“Whoa,” said Burner.

Stacey let go of Trevor’s arm. “What’s happening?”

“Yes, WHOO!” said Tierney. “Well, you boneheads can go to the bonfire; I’m gonna explore!” She pushed a few more bricks out of the way and climbed inside.

And despite Stacey’s allure, Trevor’s curiosity was piqued once more. “I’m coming with!”

Burner shrugged his shoulders at Stacey and followed Trevor. Stacey huffed, walked a few steps, then turned around and hiked her black faux-leather skirt slightly so she could manoeuvre through the entrance.

“Hey!” she shouted. “It’s really dark in here!”

“Yeah, I kinda broke my flashlight when I wacked the wall,” shouted Tierney.

“Shouldn’t we find the light switch?” she said, feeling her way around as her eyes adjusted.

“We’re four white kids in an abandoned warehouse. If we turned on the lights, that would be far too logical!”

The teens paused for a moment to let Stacey join them, then wandered the dark vast room, crowded with crates, machines, and assorted junk.

“So, what are we looking for?” asked Burner.

“A ghost,” said Trevor.

“A what?” asked Stacey.

“A ghost. Someone in the factory severed their head on the assembly line, and they were totally pissed about dying. We’re here to see if this place is really haunted.”

Burner made a face. “How can you lose your head that way? Don’t they have failsafe crap?”

“Exactly,” said Tierney. “Had to be foul play.”

“It had to be,” echoed Trevor, “but rumour says the eldest son was the perp of the decapitation. Jealous of his adopted brother, who was better at running things. So, bio brother killed him off to make sure Daddy didn’t make baby brother the heir instead.”

Tierney put down her backpack and began setting up some special cameras. “And we’re gonna capture everything on film when the ghost appears.”

But, before she could finish, every warehouse illuminated with light, making the teens cry out. Whirring machines caused a cacophony, and when they could open their eyes again, the gang noticed a hovering headless figure in tattered clothing, arms badly decomposed.

“Um, or maybe we won’t,” said Tierney.

At that, and the paranormal screeches that followed, all four adolescents re-abandoned the building, leaving behind a lone shoe, a ludicrously expensive stiletto.


Troping the Light Fantastic © 2020 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. This is a work of fiction from the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.


Black and white headshot of Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist for Best Related Work) in an attempt to take over the world.

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