Friday, December 18, 2009

#fridayflash: Gas Premium

The service station appeared at the top of the rise like a dilapidated child’s toy. Old gas pumps and a ramshackle building looked as if they had been set down on the grass by a giant child and then abandoned at naptime.

Lisa relaxed at the sight. The yellow “low fuel” light had blinked on about half an hour ago and her car had been acting funny ever since. She could hear her brother now.

“Dumb blonde!” it was her usual rebuke for lighting out in a hurry without checking the gas gauge.

Lisa screeched to a halt before one of the old-fashioned black opaque gas pumps and flew from the driver’s seat like a paper airplane in a windstorm. She waited a mere moment before scouring front and sides of the gas pump looking for the nozzle. What an odd-looking pump. Although it looked old and rough, it felt smooth and glassy – cool to the touch despite the heat of the day.

Just as she was about to give up and search out some assistance, her fingers touched a ribbed hose poking from the side of the pump and she yanked it roughly towards her car, shoving it home as easily as a plug in a socket.

Lisa relaxed slightly as she listened to gurgles of the gasoline and smelled the pungent fumes. As she waited for the tank to fill, she ran her hands absently over the ribbed black hose before her. Like the pump it was attached to, the hose flexed smooth, cold, and slick, like snake or lizard skin. The cold sliminess traveled dreamily up her arm. From somewhere in the depths of her mind, she felt a quick nuzzle, tickle, buzz, sting on her forearm which yanked her back to reality with a jolt.

“Hello . . .” Lisa stepped into the rickety windowless building still rubbing her arm. “I need to pay for some gas.”

The building was empty. Not a desk, no chairs, no tools, and no people; just an empty husk of a building which echoed her footfalls and calling voice. Lisa reached out a hand to touch the weathered boards. To her surprise the walls felt smooth, glassy and cold, not rough and splintery like wood should feel.

A queasy feeling rumbled in Lisa’s stomach and she felt a brief sensation of falling rapidly – like a fast elevator trip. She backed quickly out of the empty cubicle, her heels grinding thankfully against clumps of stunted grass bristling out of dusty clay.

The sky above surged with sickly purple and yellow clouds. The horizon wavered in the distance reminding Lisa of heat spikes seen in desert backgrounds.

“Now what do I do?” her mind asked her absently. The warm desert wind pushed her light hair back from her sweaty brow and deposited sand shards in her wide blue eyes. Lisa, eyes scrunched shut, pressed her back against one of the old gas pumps and inched her butt downward until her car blocked the gritty wind and she was sitting on the curb in front of the old-fashioned gas pump. As she carefully worked to blink the sand from her eyes, Lisa felt another quick nuzzle, tickle, buzz, sting – this time on the small of her back. She rubbed the spot as she stood and backed away from the old pump.

“Hey, you,” a garbled voice called out.
Lisa turned and watched the creature approach from the small building. The being towering over her had coal black eyes, and even blacker tentacles. The tentacles protruded from different parts of its body moving with grace and speed. One hovered over his eyes to block the searing sunlight, one smoothed his black hair in place as the wind ruffled it, one held a clipboard and pen and seemed to be taking notes, and another pointed at Lisa.

“Miss, that’ll be $15.50 for the gas, please.”

Lisa watched mesmerized as a yellow tentacle sprouted from her forearm, reached into her jeans pocket, pulled out a ten and a five and shoved them into the grasp of the waving black tentacle before her. More tiny yellow tentacles sprouted from different parts of her body. One large tentacle emerged from the small of her back, opened the car door and yanked Lisa inside. As she grasped the steering wheel with her hands, the small tentacle whipping to and fro from her forearm turned the key and the car sped away.

The black tentacled creature squinted at the car driving off and then at the bills waving before his eyes. He shook his head, bouncing long and short tentacles about like dreadlocks.

“Dumb Blonde,” he muttered ambling back into his station while a tentacle busily noted the fifty-cent mistake on his clipboard and another shoved the bills into his back pocket.




Gas Pump Blues


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24 comments:

V.R. Leavitt said...

Hey Weezel! Another good flash story! I like your use of similes. Very descriptive!

Tony Noland said...

Wow, bizarre and creepy!

Diandra said...

More tentacles... must be something in the air today. (^v^)

Great idea, great scene - although there were too many adjectives and descriptions, for my taste...

Marisa Birns said...

Very imaginative piece! Laughed at the notion that the dumb blonde pejorative is used all over...even in alien worlds!

In New Jersey, people are not allowed to pump own gas. Think I'll go there from now on :)

Draco Torre said...

Interesting story. A little rough spot in the transition from inside the station, a dream-like switch. Great opening and a nice close.
-David G Shrock

David Masters said...

Some lovely turns of phrase like "empty husk of a building", "dilapidated child’s toy", and "cold sliminess traveled dreamily".

Tentacles scare me.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very strange and excellent. I loved the great descriptions throughout.

theothersideofdeanna.wordpress.com said...

Great description! And yes, very bizarre.

Laura Eno said...

Remind me not to go there. I don't want to grow even more tentacles than I already have...
Creepy, in a good way. :)

Iapetus999 said...

Would like to eat the dessert wind. Should be tasty.
I do like a girl with tentacles tho :)

G.P. Ching said...

Now, when I read this one the first time, I interpreted it to mean that the gas fumes had made her hallucinate the tentacles. I loved the colorful descriptions and the creative plot. $15.50 for gas? That might be worth a few tentacles!

Linda said...

Fun! Great play on the dumb blonde theme. I like your digs here -- and will be back! Peace, Linda

FogDog said...

Cool story...something I wold expect to see on the Twilight Zone. I didn't like the beginning though, the dilapidated child's toy reference just doesn't seem to fit.

I did like the way the story ended, the reader is left to decide if it was a hallucination, if she was human and was growing tentacles, or simply two normal aliens in everyday life.

Karen from Mentor said...

"clumps of stunted grass bristling out of dusty clay." was my favorite image.
I like a girl with tentacles. They are just that perfect little accent for the holiday season.
:0)

Weezel said...

Thanks to all who stopped by to leave me comments and critiques -- these are always welcome and suggestions will be used to polish up any future fictional pieces.
Thanks friends!

Horror with Heart said...

All my tentacles enjoyed it, Louise. One suggestion would be to start with her needing gas. Perhaps Lisa looks up from the gauge below E and the blinking gas light to see the station appear at the top of the rise. She feels relief but hopes it's open, leading to the rest of the description.
That way, we readers are led into the description a bit, already seeing things from Lisa's pov and feeling the tension of her needing gas.

Horror with Heart said...

Particularly enjoyed the "dumb blonde" bookends. Ha.

Susan Beth Studio said...

Weez....this was so cool, very "twilight-zonish"! Wish I could get away with $30 at the pump, let alone $15.50! Hey, why aren't we getting any tenctacles, what a bum deal!

jdanetyler said...

This has a nice tone and movement. I'll second Draco's comment on the transition from exterior to interior, and there's some confusion about what's going on exactly. I found at least one place where something is described as ribbed and then smooth. If that's similar to the walls, where they look grainy and splintered but are smooth to the touch, it didn't come out well in the description.

And as someone's who's been called out repeatedly on over-writing something, I should mention that too many similes make a piece very weighty and tire the reader. This one is laden with them. I think you could pare back or change some to metaphors without damaging it, but that's me. And of course, careful with the adjective use. ;)

A nice entry, Louise! Look forward to your next. :)

~Tim said...

I want tentacles!

I agree with the idea of starting with the need for gas -- then the car acting funny leads us into this bizarre place.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Oh I do love a story with tentacles. Very imaginative, and while I see jdanetyler's point re: the similes, I very much liked the one in the first paragraph

Chance said...

You cant go wrong with a good tale with tentacles.

Good stuff!

estrella05azul said...

You have great imagination, loved it! :)

theblockhouse said...

Wow, I'm going to be looking at my arms for hours. I do not want these tentacles. ;-) One small thing to take or leave, I don't think you need "by a giant child" in the opening graph and I think it reads really well without it. I love the wavering horizon and some of the other imagery as well.