Flash Fiction

Got a new story for you. Not my best work, but definitely not my worst. Let me know what you think. Or don’t. So long as you enjoy it, I’m happy.

Roulette
By, E.W. Morrow
Word Count: 713

The girl put the gun against her temple and fingered the trigger. Her eyes never left those of the man across the table. He grinned at her through the haze of cigarette smoke. Her own face was blank, untouched by emotion. Nothing. No joy. No sorrow. No fear.

She squeezed the trigger.

The click of the hammer slamming into an empty chamber shot down the barrel and echoed through her skull. Across the table the man’s smile faltered. He recovered quickly, but the twinkle had left his eyes for good, turning the crescent moon of his teeth into more of a grimace than anything kin to joy.

“Well…” the man said as she lowered the gun. “Guess Lady Luck’s being a tease tonight, eh?”

He chuckled lamely at his own statement. The sound died out quickly, swallowed by the darkness surrounding the table. Out there, he knew, beyond the pool of amber light, were the silent watchers. People who were less than people. Individuals so jaded with life that this grim spectacle was their only recourse. More than anything else, more than his own financial gain or even the girl’s freedom, this game was being held for the watchers. The man was glad he couldn’t see them clearly.

The girl silently slid the gun across the table. He stared at it for a moment, as though unwilling to proceed. The light above the table flickered menacingly. By the time the light had stabilized the gun was in his hand and pressed against his head.

His hand trembled faintly as he stared ahead. The girl’s expression hadn’t changed. No hope danced across her features, no tension knitted her brow. For some reason that single fact disturbed him, angered him, more than anything else. If he pulled the trigger and the gun went off, she wouldn’t even care. She would feel no horror, no guilty joy, no wave of relief. She probably wouldn’t even flinch as drops of his blood peppered her face, started dripping off her pale, bony features. She simply wouldn’t care.

But the thought that chilled him to his core wasn’t the belief that the girl was somehow something new, or strange. It was the fear that she was nothing more than a physical representation of the general opinion of the entire world.

If he died, who would care? Who would notice? His life would end in a sad, desperate spray of red and gray, and the world wouldn’t even blink.

Darkness started closing in. At first he didn’t notice, so appropriate was the phenomenon to his state of mind, but after a few seconds sanity reasserted itself. The darkness closing in around him wasn’t the figurative shadow of self-doubt, but the menacing, broad-shouldered silhouettes of dangerous men in dark suits. The game had stalled for too long. The man, gun to his head, decided that there were worse fates than a quick, meaningless death, and squeezed the trigger.

Click.

The man released a ragged breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. In one swift movement he threw the gun across the table in a noisy clatter. The revolver tumbled over the edge and landed in the girl’s lap. Without hesitation she picked it up, pointed it at her head, and squeezed.

The crack of the gunshot was sudden and terrible. The man’s bowels loosened and almost jettisoned their contents then and there. At the last possible moment he regained his composure and stifled his own outburst. At both ends. From the darkness beyond his sight there was an appreciative intake of breath and a slight round of applause.

The man sagged with relief. He was alive. Sudden, wonderful exhilaration filled ever molecule of his being. He had been spared the ignominy of nobody lamenting his death, and suddenly he was richer than he had ever been. Slowly, he pushed his chair back and began to stand.

Too slowly.

The body on the opposite side of the table lurched suddenly and then sat back up. The girl’s expression was just as dead, just as unchanging as it had been before. She didn’t even register the gaping, dripping hole on the side of her head. Then, a bored voice echoed across the room.

“And now, round two of this best of five series.”