[REDACTED] – pulp noir flash fiction challenge






A wise man once said, “We come into this world naked, covered in our own blood, screaming in terror – and it doesn’t have to stop there if you know how to live right.” It took me this long to really understand the depth of that statement.

Nine months I was trapped, imprisoned in a dark cell designed to keep me safe. All it was doing was keeping me from my sanity. It chose my nourishment, my blood, my entertainment. I was a victim to its every whim.

Now comes the part where you say, “So when were you born, little guy? Tell us how you are really a baby talking through a man’s voice. It’s hilarious.”

My response is, “Fuck you.”

When the directors at [redacted] assigned me to this position, I thought it would be easy money. I had a decent amount of retirement saved up, a good solid nest egg, the wife said I could try a little harder. She wanted a place in Florida. Boy, do I ever miss those problems.

The company, [redacted], is probably one you’ve never heard of. Maybe in some distant corner of your DNA you might recognize them, but [redacted] doesn’t advertise. They don’t need to.

I was working the swing shift, “sorting the sorties” we used to joke. We paired them up, found a linear fate singularity, then activated the Brain Scan Resonance Amplifier and sent them on their way after they died. They don’t pay us up front. We collect that in the end.

Normally I didn’t see many faces in my line of work. I processed paperwork, stacks of it, up to my eyeballs. When the lady came to talk to me, I almost didn’t see her behind the mountain of forms.

And speaking of forms. A pair of shoulders grew out of one of my stacks. They bloomed feathers. Over the top of the stack, a cigarette smoke plume stuck in the air.

“I’m busy,” I said.

“I’m Francine,” she said. Her voice was as scratchy as a wool sweater.

She moved into my view and I could see she was built like a protractor, all curves and no depth. She leaned over the desk. It looked like she was smuggling two Guatemalan cantaloupes.

“Pleased to meet you, Francine,” I said. “I’m still busy.”

She ignored me completely, as would any knockout talking to a sixty-year-old paper pusher. “I hear [redacted] specializes in forced reincarnation.”

I raised an eyebrow. Someone wasn’t signing their NDA’s.

“We’re the only company that specializes in reincarnation,” I said. “How do you know that?”

“My husband is a wealthy man,” she said through a cloud of smoke. “And I intend to keep him that way. I’ll do anything.”

I stamped a form and shuffled it to the next pile. Poor bastard was doomed to be a cockroach again, but that’s what you get for cheating old ladies out of their retirement. I looked back up at Francine.

“Can’t help you, sorry.”

I pointed at the door, but she started to cry. Not the sort of crying you see in the movies. These were big, gaping sobs, like a fat kid who dropped his lollipop. She was worthy of an Oscar.

“I’ve loved him my whole life,” she said. “He has always done the best for me. I just…  I just…”

“Wanted to make sure you were together again,” I finished her sentence.

She nodded. More likely she got written out of a will. I knew that cry.

“Look… Francine,” I said. “It isn’t as simple as that. You don’t just get to choose where you come out.”

“Well, how does it work then,” she said, still sniffing.

I explained the best I could. The [redacted] Longevity Timeline Disperser works like this: when you register, your brain is scanned. That includes your memories, your fears, your regrets. All of it.

You’re basically hedging your bets that when the [redacted] Consciousness Redirection Exporter turns on, your consciousness will go to a more palatable destination. The outcome might as well be random. [redacted] explicitly makes no guarantees. But at least by signing up with us, people have a chance. At the bare minimum, they have hope. Hope sells for a lot these days.

“Can you show me the…drain… sand… exfoliater… thing?” she said.

“The Brain Scan Resonance Amplifier or the Consciousness Redirection Exporter?”

“All of it,” she said in a sultry voice.

I got the feeling we were talking about more than just machines. I led her into the processing room, the place they take the stiffs to scan for residual memories in the DNA.

“We have memories there too?” her eyes were the size of moons and bluer than a sapphire. I found myself making apologies to my wife already–lies if we didn’t get caught.

I led her over to a huge white metal box that looked like the back end of a garbage truck.

“This is the–”

Before I could finish, she had glued her lips to mine like a catfish sucking a tailpipe. I groped her, riddled with guilt. We wrestled each other’s clothes off.

“We can’t here. It’s the–”

Then she pushed me onto the bed of the mulcher, straddling me. I thought we were safe. Usually, maintenance remembers to turn off the power before weekends. When I felt the shock from the Brainscan Resonance Identifier, I knew it was too late. My last thoughts were of how I had just cheated on Bridget with a desperate bimbo trophy wife on a body mulcher.

I’m pretty sure we were the first people in history to go through the mulcher alive. It would certainly explain why I kept my memories. It also explains how I’m now the only orangutan who speaks perfect English and has a thing for blonds.

Now I just have to figure out how to explain this to my wife.

12 responses to “[REDACTED] – pulp noir flash fiction challenge

  1. This was a ton of fun. I love the world you built for this story. You could totally use this setting for something longer. Fantastic concept and wonderful execution.

  2. Pingback: F3 – Cycle 24 – Stories | Flash Fiction Friday

  3. A very inventive piece – loved all the ‘technical’ terms and the ending was a killer – I shall never look at an Orang Utan in the same way……! 🙂

Leave a Reply to Flannery Alden Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s