Well, I managed to finish my flash fiction for November. The cards drawn meant we had to write an urban fantasy that takes place in a hospital elevator, and there has to be a gun in the story.
Here’s my entry: Better to Believe…Less Mutants That Way
The woman peers at the indicator lights, wearing a mask with unnaturally large lips in a toothy grin. The smile takes up half of her face.
“Third, but I see it’s already been pressed.”
I nod. My own mask is nothing special. Navy blue with white elastics. I quickly glance at the other occupants. One is wearing a mask with a moustache, another’s looks like a galaxy, there’s that huge grin lady, and a pink paisley fellow. Might ask the wife to sew me something. She’d offered, the crafty little elf, but I turned my nose up. Now I feel underdressed.
The elevators nearly close all the way when a broad white guy barges in, face revealed.
“Wahoo!!!” He pulls a gun from his pocket and waves it around as the door shuts. “FREEDOM!”
Paisley Guy is not intimidated in the least. “What the hell? You bring a gun into a hospital? What’s your plan, to run away with a half-dozen gold-plated bedpans?”
I frantically press the open-door button. It doesn’t work.
“It’s not real. Just a toy for my kid. Had his appendix removed.”
“And where’s your mask?” asks Huge Grin.
“I don’t like ‘em.”
“Do you have sensory issues?” asks Galaxy Girl.
“Huh? No, I don’t think so.”
“Do you have a chronic severe respiratory condition that makes you feel smothered when you’re wearing one?” asks Huge Grin.
“No. Hey, what is this, an interrogation?”
The woman pulls a plastic bag out of her purse, and throws it at Unmasked Guy. He didn’t expect that, so he dropped the gun to catch it.
Instinctively, I jump, thinking the weapon will go off, then remember it’s a toy. It just makes an empty plastic sound on the floor.
“What is this?” Asks Unmasked Guy.
“It’s a mask. Put it on!”
“I don’t see what the big deal is. You’re all wearing them, so why should I have to?”
At this point, I realize that while the door is shut, the elevator hasn’t moved. An alarm beeps with an automated message:
“The door is ajar, the door is ajar…”
I look over and see that the backpack of Unmasked Guy is stuck in a crevice by the door jamb.
“Dude, your bag!”
“Huh.” he says, then adds an, “Oh,” as he realizes he can’t turn properly. He pulls himself forward.
The elevator starts moving.
“Put your mask on,” says Paisley.
“I’m telling you, I don’t have to do it! It’s a free country.”
The chime pings, indicating the third floor. This is my stop.
As the door opens again, we’re greeted with the sight of what looks like two COVID-19 viruses, standing on tall legs and in each other’s arms.
“Now, Mother,” cooes the larger of the two viruses, “Don’t fret. He infected many people before they got him with that antiviral wipe. We should focus on that.”
“I know, dear, but I just can’t believe he’s gone, and—“ She pauses at the sight of us staring wide-eyed. Unmasked Guy’s mouth is open.
The mama virus’s eyes switch from sorrow to bloodlust.
”There’s one of them who thinks we don’t exist, I can sense it. Let’s pounce, son!”
We all scream. Unmasked Guy fiddles in the bag to put on his mask while I pound the close-door button. The viruses charge the elevator, but Huge Grin stands in the way with some alcoholic spray. Two spritzes cause the viruses to recoil while the door closes.
Paisley helps the previously unmasked guy get suited up. Huge Grin woman spritzes his hands. I shakily dial my cell to call Information:
“Information, can I help you?”
“Uh, yeah, you can. Five of us are in the elevator in the West Wing. We nearly got attacked by two gigantic COVID viruses on the third floor!”
“Was one of you not wearing PPE?”
Newly Masked Guy looks at his shoes.
“Yeah,” I say.
“Is he a pandemic denier?”
“Seemed like it.”
Well, that explains the lunging. We’ll get a cleaning crew to the third floor. I’ll inform security to blast any further intruders.”
”You’ll… you’ll what?”
“We have everything under control, sir. In the meantime, please exit the building. I’ll have a team of soldiers escort you. Don’t worry, they’ll be fully armed with antiviral weaponry. You’ll be safe.”
We all felt the elevator automatically reverse direction toward the main floor.
“I… I… I thought the viruses were so small, they needed to be viewed by an special type of microscope.”
“That was originally. But now that so many people don’t take the pandemic seriously, the virus grew. Disbelief feeds them like fertilizer.”
The door opens to the armed guards, looking like something from a Ghostbusters franchise. I automatically hang up the call.
“We heard there was an incident,” said the team leader, through his specialized headgear, deep voice almost sounding like Darth Vader.
“Yeah, somebody refused to wear his mask,” said Big Grin.
“I will never take it off again,” Newly Masked Guy said.
“Madam, there are some disabled and chronically ill people who cannot wear masks, so we have their back, and their belief in the virus also prevents it from coming close because these people will accept other safety measures. It’s the mockers who get trampled on by the mutant viruses.”
Newly Masked Guy raises his hand, “As God is my witness, I shall take this pandemic seriously from now on.” He jumped. “But my kid! Will my kid be all right?”
“Should be fine. Kids seem to really understand what needs to be done. I even saw a toddler kill a mutant by flinging a bottle of hand sanitizer at its head.”
No one speaks.
“Anyway, let’s get you all outside. My team has to roll.”
As we are escorted outside into the fresh air, Newly Masked Guy gets on his cell:
“Yeah, toy shop? What’s your biggest barrel squirt gun? Something that fits about 2 litres of hand sanitizer. Hello? Hello?”
Well, at least he understands.
Better to Believe… Less Mutants That Way © 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.
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.