Body Double

SFF Bloghop

It’s blog hop time! My piece is short, a flash-fiction story clocking in at exactly 500 words. I’m pretty nervous to share it, and super excited to read the rest of the stories in the hop. Anyway, without further ado, I present Body Double.

Disclaimer: This story features mild references to violence.

—————————————

I gazed out the glass wall of my apartment, trying to admire the skyscraper-studded view while ignoring the sounds of the 127th Academy Awards streaming behind me.

I didn’t know why I’d even turned it on—but as the level of wine in my bottle fell, so did my resolution not to watch it.

When they prepped to announce the winner for Best Actress, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I polished off the bottle, walked over, and plopped myself on the couch in front of the screen.

“Lucia Dioskour!”

The video cut to an image of my twin in red dress, beaming stupidly with equal parts shock and delight.

Getting awarded for my work.

Her speech, complete with crocodile tears, didn’t include a single mention of me.

Come morning, I woke to the sound of someone banging on my front door. Bleary-eyed and hungover, I got up from the couch and walked over, not bothering to check my appearance—or the peephole—first.

When I flung open the door, Lucia stood before me, looking airbrushed as usual. Though we’d shared a face since birth, somehow Lucia always looked better. And she never let me forget it.

Lucia appraised me with her eyes and smirked. “Hello, Kassia. May I?” she asked.

“No.”

I tried closing the door, but she pushed against it. I wanted to slam it on her hand and break a few of those manicured fingers. Instead, I relented, and she strode inside. She seated herself at the head of my dining table and chewed on the end of her scarf, a habit she’d picked up in our childhood specifically to irritate me.

“You didn’t come support me last night,” she said, after I finally took a seat.

“I can’t imagine why not.”

“Oh, don’t be bitter—it’s not a good look on you. And there’s really no reason to be upset. ”

“Seriously? That award is mine.

“Please,” she said, waving her hand.  “So I got sick, and you covered me for a couple shots—“

“Try a couple weeks.

“—I did all the real work.”

“You’re joking. You weren’t even in the scenes people are raving about, or the clips they played last night.  That was all me!”

Lucia rolled her eyes. “Don’t give yourself so much credit. You’re good, Kassia. But I’m better.”

“Even if that were true—which it’s not—that doesn’t mean you can steal my work! I’m not asking you to give everything up, just to give me some credit. Do I not deserve that?”

She shrugged. “Look. The film industry doesn’t need two of us, and you just don’t have that je ne sais quoi that celebrity requires. I do. I won’t apologize for that.”

I don’t remember strangling her—if I used my bare hands, or that stupid scarf of hers.

I do remember stringing her up and staging it as my own suicide, complete with note.

And I’ll always remember the thrill of polishing my Oscar for the first time.

—————————————

Check out the other stories!

Kris Bowser: Tantrums
Virginia McClain: Rakko’s Storm
Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl
Elizabeth McCleary: The Door
Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box
Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food
Rabia Gale: Spark
K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel
Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue
Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate
Cherie “Jade” Arbuckle: After I Died
Karen Lynn: The Family Book
Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog
Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It’s That Way?
Paula de Carvalho: Body Double

Get Ready for a Blog Hop!

So, I’ve been gone for a while. Months, actually. I’ll keep my explanation brief, mostly because I don’t want to go into it much.

Mid-spring, some things came up in my personal life that made it impossible for me to write, or do much of anything, really. Shortly thereafter I picked up a second job, which has been eating at my time, as my total working hours sometimes reach 70 a week. Then, to top that all off, I’ve been moving. So needless to say I haven’t had time for much.

I haven’t been writing, either for the blog (obviously) or for my fiction, which I hate. But now that I’m more used to having two jobs, and I’m nearly done unpacking, I’m determined to make a huge comeback. I’ve got this novel that I’m just itching to write, and I’m so excited to have the time to work on developing and writing it.

In the meantime, get ready for a blog hop! On Wednesday, the 26th of August, about fifteen other writers and I will be posting a single flash fiction piece or short story each. So that means new work from me (my favorite flash I’ve ever written, entitled Body Double), plus new authors for you to discover! (:

bloghop

Burnt Flesh

by Paula de Carvalho
All rights reserved.

Tarik strolled around the newly re-discovered library’s main room, admiring the erratic rows of shelving units. He could live three lifetimes and never read all that the alien building contained. Why they’d abandoned it, he’d never understand—though at the moment he was more intrigued by the material the tablets were made of. They looked like slabs of sheet metal, but when he ran a finger over the embossed text, it felt like papyrus.

Amber’s voice came through the intercom strapped to his wrist, breaking his train of thought. “Boss?”

“Copy.”

“You’ve gotta get outta there. A fire broke out in the east wing, and its spreading like—well, like fire.”

Tarik shook his head, sure he’d misheard. “A what? How?” But even as he spoke, he began to smell it in the air.

“A fire, sir. I think Cady was smoking while she worked. Does it matter? Get out.”

He’d lost a childhood home to fire. He knew how quickly the flames could spread, and how completely they destroyed.

“Copy,” he said.

Tarik reached for the nearest shelf and grabbed tablets from it at random, hugging them to his chest.

Smoke descended from the ceiling, and flames leaped into the room from the east wing, swallowing shelving units whole.

The heat was suffocating—a few minutes more, and the whole room would ignite.

The tablets he’d already grabbed would have to suffice. Tarik sprinted across the room towards the open door, staying as low as he could manage, weaving in and out through the rows.

Flames danced after him, licking at his heels. He could feel his boots melting into his feet. His lungs burned and his eyes watered. The alien tablets grew hot in his arms.

Don’t burn up, he thought, please don’t burn up.

But his plea went unheeded. They grew hotter still, burning through his shirt and searing his flesh.

On instinct, he dropped them and kept running.

Instantly, he regretted it—but he could not turn back.

Tarik darted through the door and into open air. He fell to his hands and knees only a few feet from the entrance, coughing so hard he felt he would vomit. It didn’t help that the scent of his own burnt hair and flesh assaulted his nostrils.

Through bleary eyes, he saw two dark figures—his teammates—approaching him. They lifted him on either side, slinging his arms around their shoulders, and half-dragged him back to the rest of the team, well away from the fire.

When his coughing subsided and his vision cleared, Tarik looked up just in time to see the building collapse.

“Gone,” he said, through choked sobs. “It’s all gone.”

“Well,” Cady said, wincing, “not all of it.”

Only then did Tarik notice the scorching pain on his chest.

He looked down at his naked flesh, scarred with the mirror-image of some alien text—crudely branded, but legible.

And, through the pain, he smiled.