Sunday, November 21, 2010

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The Deep Hole

I have been contributing to a flash fiction radio show on KMSU called Tales from the Poorhouse. Essentially, writers meet and are asked to write a flash fiction piece based on a prompt. Last week the prompt was “the deep hole.” We then have one hour to write and 30 min to revise. Once the time is up, we record our stories for the radio. This is the flash piece I wrote last week.

John lost a pile of wood and a book of matches. They just vanished, poof, gone. He checked everywhere, beneath the couches, the rug, potted plants. Other things came up missing as well, pots, pans, a coffee table, and a banana chair. John became suspicious. He purchased an alarm system with cameras and lasers. It had a woman’s voice, “Please replace the item. The authorities have been notified.” But it never went off and more items came up missing.

The surveillance films showed that as he slept, elves, Keebler elves, were crawling out of his belly button. There were dozens of them, a colony really, all standing about 6 in. The elves were pleasant and hard working, with round noses and calloused fingers. They wandered about John’s home during the night taking furniture, toiletries, and collectable plates. They took his fireplace and John could only assume it would be used to make fudge. The elves carried the items in groups, up the stairs, down the hall, and inside of John’s belly button.

John was a large man. He stood six-foot three, with brick shaped hands, and a hard round gut. But this space inside of him must have been massive to accommodate all that furniture and a colony of elves. John examined his belly button with a flashlight and some Popsicle sticks. He tugged and stretched it, but all he could find was lint and a balled up knot of skin.

Sometimes heat and smoke exited John’s belly button, along with a pleasant chocolatey aroma. Eventually John found that if he placed a length of garden hose between his belly button and his ear, he could hear them chatting. They talked about holiday themed cookie and marketing expenditures.

Never marrying and living in the woods had made John a lonely man. Sometimes he went months without talking to a single person. Isolation caused John to be flattered by their choice of a home. John spoke through the tube, telling them about his love for grasshopper cookies and double stuffed fudge bars. They responded in kind, telling John that his stomach was perfect for making fudge. “There’s a vaulted ceiling in here,” one said. “And it’s much warmer than a tree.” They spoke often through the tube. John was curious about the life of an elf, and they seemed curious about him. This was the closest John had ever come to having a friend.

One day the elves asked what John did for a living and he told them he was a lumberjack. It was then that things went bad. They called him a tree smasher, and a baby killer. “Do you have any idea how many of our homes you’ve destroyed?” John apologized, but it was too late. When he awoke the next morning all the things the elves had taken were replaced. And when he spoke into the tube, he got no response.