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A Birthday Wish

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Craig looked down at the dog. The dog's look of bewilderment faded with its last breath and it

lay still. Craig re-holstered his pistol and turned away pretending to feel nothing.


He wasn't that far gone.

Not yet.

He stopped and looked again. Amazingly, after all this time, the dog had the dirty remains of a

nylon collar around his neck. Once he was loved. Once he probably loved his owner, his family.

Now, like Craig, he was just trying to survive.

Craig's eyes widened slightly as he realized he recognized the dog, the collar. It was, or rather

once had been, Mrs. Klein's Golden Retriever from down the street.

Before he taught himself to shoot Craig was almost killed by a German Shepherd near a warehouse

much like this one. He had been lucky and managed to kick in just the right place. That's when he taught

himself to shoot. Almost right after he taught himself to stitch himself and apply antiseptic.

Thank god for books. The internet was long dead.

That was eight months ago. Two weeks after the Disappearance. The first time he had ventured out past

his block.

He had had little choice. The power had been out for days and there was no more fresh food. The canned

stuff and packaged stuff almost gone.

He went into the warehouse and found what he was looking for. After opening the box and then opening

one of the boxes inside that one and finally opening the plastic package, he had it in his hand. A

Twinkie. Still edible. The wonders of preservatives. He pulled the candle he had been saving out of

his pocket and stuck it in the twinkie. He hesistated a moment before lighting it. What did he have

to celebrate?

Being alive would have to do.

He sang Happy Birthday to himself, blew out the candle after making a mighty wish, and took a bite.

Fourteen years old today. Yes, he was sure. Battery operated watches with dates were everywhere. It

wasn't hard to keep track.

Craig shook his head and forced the depression that was starting to creep up on him away. No, he

had to keep hopeful. He had always been a smart kid. He knew about Occam's Razor. He knew about

probability. Out of six billion people the chances that five billion, nine hundred and ninety nine

million, ninety hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine could vanish one

night without a trace leaving thirteen year old Craig Jamison and only Craig Jamison sleeping in his bedroom

while wearing one dirty sock were remote. Ridiculously remote. Despite no evidence to the contrary in eight months.

He chewed and swallowed the last of the confection and stood up, licking his fingers.

A noise back at the doorway.

Dammit! He cursed himself for his inattention, managed to pull out his pistol, ensure a round was

chambered and the safety off when a shadow appeared blocking the sunshine.

Another boy rounded the corner and stopped suddenly, a pistol in his own hand half raised before

freezing. Craig was sure the expression on the strange boy's face exactly matched his own.

Utter shock, obviously, along with bewilderment, uncertainty, and, most of all, absolutely most

of all, overwhelming relief.

Maybe birthday wishes can come true.

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It's flash fiction if there is no more. If we start to reject flash fiction stories because there could potentially be more written then there won't be an awful lot of it posted.

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I wasn't rejecting it, or trying to make rules. I was offering opinion, and suggesting there was a lot going on here that couldn't possibly be resolved in this format.

I would think a flash should, for the most part, be self-contained. This seemed more to be suggesting diverse plot threads that would take much more than 1,000 words to explore.

It's up to the author, of course. If this is all he wants to do with it, that's his decision.


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I have a bit of a confession to make. I wrote the first iteration of this quite a while back as a rough first chapter after drafting a quick outline for a story idea I had. I left it sit since but something reminded me of it the other day and I pulled it out. I spent a (very) small amount of time rewriting it so it could stand alone to some degree and I thought I'd throw it into the lake and see if it floated.

Cole, you were perceptive. That's why it sounded like a first chapter to a longer story.

I haven't actually written any more yet but I did massage the old outline a bit (read: rip it to shreds while shaking my head aghast) so we'll see.


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The title is fulfilled by the story, he gets his birthday wish.

I don't mind having to work to realise he blew the candle out on his makeshift Twinkie birthday cake and made a birthday wish, or that the back story is mysterious and complex.

That much said, the unanswered questions, the tantalising mystery of the setting and the circumstances could make fodder for an intriguing story of Stephen King proportions.

The quality writing here, makes a great case for such a development of the story, but I am very happy with its Flash Fiction form.


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I'll second Des' :hehe:

And his:

The quality writing here, makes a great case for such a development of the story, but I am very happy with its Flash Fiction form.

as well.

The haunting quality of the piece, for me, began early, with every detail expnding in my mind a picture of the ultimate homeless teen, the very real challenges and the critical danger in losing heart; until, in the end it reminds me that rescue will always and only have a human face.

So if I allowed it, my mind would run in a hundred directions, chasing the details both stated and implied, or I can just as easily take it as a whole experience, more than grateful for what i've got.

Thank you, Gee, it's always a pleasure to see you, a little bit of Christmas in everything you bring.


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A post-apocalyptic teenage gay love story. Not many of those around - but if they're as good as this one, more would be welcome.

A lot of flash stories are self contained short short stories, and others can work in this fashion...or be read as preludes to something larger. As others have noted, this is the latter.

I did wonder whether this was really a story about a lonely young boy's fantasies of living in a world where he can be himself - which he can only conceive as one where he's alone. But not quite alone, because to be fully yourself, you need others to be yourself with.

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Without Warning by an Aussie named Birmingham has a similar premise: a huge mysterious energy wave settled over most of the US and Canada and the people vanished.

Everything was still there except for humans. It was a very scary story because of what happened with the US out of the mix in world affairs. I won't say more about that plot other than nature abhors a vacuum.

People that think that they would be better off without the United States find out what forces Uncle Sam has been holding at bay.

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