Monday, January 18, 2010

Shackleton's Whiskey - A Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge

This was written in response to Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge about Shackleton's Whiskey. It's my first flash fiction, and it is definitely weird being constrained to 1,000 words!

Shackleton's Magical Whiskey (2/23/2011)
    The pounding was the worst part. When he was younger he'd never bothered with hang overs. He “never had the time” as he'd liked to tell people. The only problem was, college was a long ways behind you once you crossed into the thirties, and, try as you might, eventually the body started to lose that bounce back you'd taken for granted as a kid.
    The couch cushion over his head muffled the groan of complaint as he rolled onto his side. He took it back, the pounding was nothing compared to the pain in his back from sleeping on the floor. That was the worst part. Groggily, he managed to prop himself up on hands and knees, and from there it was just a short, if painful, climb to being back on his feet like a normal person. Well, almost a normal person. The stiffness in his spine had him hunched over like a hundred year old man as he slowly picked his way through the tangled limbs of the various, mostly naked, beautiful people sprawled out on the floor. It wasn't all bad trying to hold onto the partying ways of your youth; especially when your cousin hosted some of the most exclusive – and rocking – parties in the city.
    The beginnings of relief came in the form of a porcelain bowl at the end of the hall, a handful of little white pills, and a steaming shower that was his for the taking once he'd removed the naked swimmer from the small glass box. The hot water eased the tension in his back, and brought the clarity of mind that told him where he could find the real solution to the pounding in his head.
    He was awake enough now to appreciate the myriad forms that lay around the house as he picked his way to the kitchen. He was even awake enough to turn off the television, somehow stuck on a 'channel not in service' screen and making that god awful tone you only heard in movies now a days. Surprisingly, the kitchen was free from the unconscious forms of the passed out party guests. A good thing too, he didn't want to inadvertently give away the location of the hidden stash. His smile of anticipation faded to a thoughtful frown when he opened the stash. There were only two bottles left. He was sure there had been twelve last night, and he knew the other party guests hadn't gotten in to the stash. No way did his cousin let ten bottles of the stuff go in one night. Not at $90,000 a bottle, and definitely not the Shackleton's Whiskey, recovered from the antarctic after nearly a century, that he'd somehow managed to procure.
    “Fuck it,” He grunted to himself, and grabbed one of the remaining bottles. The missing hooch wasn't his problem.
    A minute later he was letting the amber liquid breathe in a glass as he tried to piece together the previous night. It didn't take long for the pounding in his head to convince said efforts were futile, and with a deep breath he closed his eyes and downed the liquor in one go. When he opened his eyes again, she was staring at him.
    She was gorgeous, tall, long of leg, and had nice curves without being too busty like some of the girls in the apartment. Exactly the kind of girl that always caught his attention. Not that he'd ever managed to get this close to her before. Which was strange, as, looking at her now, there was definitely something familiar about her. Judging from the look in her eyes, he got the impression she was feeling the same thing too.
    “Is that...”
    “Yep. Jane?”
    “Yeah...but how?”
    “Do you want to get out of here?”
    “Yeah...we probably should.”
    He didn't know where the urge had come from; just that it was a powerful and pressing urge to get out, and that he had no intention of not listening to it.  The sound of glass sliding against marble behind him told him that Jane was taking the bottle of Shackleton's. That felt right too.
    Jane straightened her clothes out in the elevator while he held the bottle. It hadn't occurred to either of them to get changed out of the party clothes they'd been wearing. Not that it mattered, no one was even around to see as they moved from the elevator door to the car, nor on the street outside of the building. The city was a ghost town, and it wasn't until Jane started playing with the radio in hopes of finding a broadcasting station that he realized where he was headed: out of the city, as fast as possible.
    “Does the sky look weird to you?” Jane had raise her voice to be heard over the revved up engine. This close to freedom, to what his mind considered safety, and Marcus's foot had pushed the pedal to the floor subconsciously.
    “Yeah, it doe-LOOK OUT!” He was too late of course, and as the thing – whatever the it was – slammed into the side of the car and sent it flying, the familiarity of it all finally clicked. Gravity took a break as free fall set in, and Marcus desperately reached for the bottle of Shackleton's as it floated in the air. This had all happened before, but something about the whiskey had given him a second, third, fourth, and even eleventh chance. Jane watched in shocked alarm as he somehow managed to take a last swig of the whiskey before the car hit the ground and began to tumble towards the nearby ravine. The pounding was the worst part.


  1. This reminds me of Donald Fagen's "Kamakiriad" album.

  2. I'll have to give it a listen sometime.