Finding Mr. Wendig’s Terrible Minds Blog has seriously changed my life. No really. My entire life. In order to repay such kindness I decided to participate in the latest flash fiction challenge – find your favorite opening line. I knew the best thank you I could give Chuck was to grace him with my writing. So, without further ado, here is my submission! I selected the opening line “All she had to do was wait” – submitted by Nora. Thank you Nora!
The Last Noel
All she had to do was wait. Everything was going as planned. She had practiced and troubleshooted every hitch. Standing now in the crowd of parade onlookers her mouth was dry and her palms were slick with sweat. If she pulled this off her life would never be the same. Hell, the world would never be the same. The gravity of her actions had weighed on her at first. She had almost given up the plans completely. But one night as she lay in bed, in that place right before sleep takes over and dreams come, she had a vision. She saw what the world would be if she went through with it. The evil she would rid the world of. It was then she knew she had to do it.
The hardest part so far had been finding a way to say goodbye without drawing too much attention to it. She had called her parents first. They made small talk for a while as was their routine. The mundaneness of the every day was rehashed. And of course, her mother had to question her about the next time she’d visit.
“We were just talking the other day about how Christmas is coming up soon. Will you be making it home for Christmas this year sweetie?”
“Um, well . . . Probably not Mom. I don’t have much vacation time at work and things have been really hectic too. Sorry.”
“Oh that’s okay, if you change your mind you can always just show up! You know where to find us.”
“I had better get going, lots of chores to do today.”
“Alright honey. Call us again soon.”
“I . . . Mom I just want to say, even when I can’t call that often, you know I love you still, right? You and dad?”
“Of course! And we love you!”
For Zach she had to write a note instead. She feared that talking to him would be too much. It might change her mind, make her abandon the plans she had so carefully constructed over the course of all these months. Her letter to him was short, simple. They had never been the gushy type of lovers that would hold hands and nuzzle in the streets. The intensity of his feelings was clear when he was near her though. The small ways he touched her, covertly perfect at arousing her. How his eyes danced lustily up and down her body, or were glued to her face as if nothing in the world existed outside of him and her. It was heart breaking to know she would never see him again. The pain of the separation would not last for long. At least that was one consolation. After she had written and rewritten the note to perfection she sealed it carefully in an envelope. She printed his name neatly on the front and hid it in the pages of the book he was currently reading. She knew if he came to the apartment and found her gone, he would pour himself a glass of scotch and sit reading his book while waiting for her. She did not want him to have to wait for long to find out where she had gone.
She shook her head to clear the memories from her mind.
“Focus,” she chastised herself. “Or all of this will be for nothing.”
The parade was moving past where she stood. The cheering of the crowd around her was almost completely drowned out by the thoughts buzzing in her head. She licked her lips. “Almost there. Just wait. It’ll all be over soon.” Men and women dressed in various uniforms were walking past, smiling and waving to the crowd. Tiny bells on their hats and shoes jingling merrily. She could tell the target was getting closer by the influx of security personnel. Each dressed in non-de scrip red and white suits, standard issue sunglasses. Each scanning the crowd for deviations or threats. They walked stoney faced, not smiling or waving. She wouldn’t be detected at a glance though. She had made sure of that with her over the top red and green outfit and rehearsed perfection of a smile.
“There,” she thought, sighing in relief at the clear view of her target, just as she had planned. “There he is.”
Slowly she weaved her way toward the front of the crowd. She knew she had exactly 36 seconds from the time he came into view down the street until his sleigh would be directly in front of her. She made herself look eager to see him and be close to him as he passed. She could not afford to draw attention to herself and risk his guards being alerted. Her timing was perfect. She reached the front of the crowd right as his sleigh lined up with where she stood. It was then that all her practice took over and she acted on sheer instinct. She leapt with cat like quickness onto the steps of the sleigh. Startled, he turned his rosy cheeks and bowl full of jelly belly toward her and bellowed, “Why hello there little girl! What would you like for Christmas?!”
“I want freedom for the elves you have enslaved for centuries.” She drew the gun and aimed. Screams reached her ears but she had no time to let it concern her. His face melted into abject horror as he stared down the barrel of the gun.
She pulled the trigger, just as his guards reached her. They tackled her and she landed face down on the seat of the sleigh. Turning her head she was able to watch as the twinkle left his eyes.
“Dead!” someone screamed. “Santa is dead!”
Her joyous laughter cut through the air with an icy chill. Christmas was no more.