A TBL Flash Fiction Feature
by Zachary Reinis
The store was nearly deserted. Only a few people were in line at the counter. The cashier lazily scanned their items, sounding like a broken record: Hello. How are you doing today? Is that all? Have a good day. Hello. How are you doing today? Is that all? Have a good day.
The last man in line wore a dark blue zip-up sweatshirt pulled over his forearms, his hands sticking out of the sleeves, gripping a hacksaw. He heard the beeps from items being checked off. He counted the seconds in his head. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. He looked at the door and then back at the people in line ahead of him.
The cashier noticed the strange man with the backwards sweatshirt. He kept looking over his shoulder. As people were checked out, the man moved closer to her. She took her time ringing up the other two people left in line.
He stared at the door. Six. Seven. One person left in line. Nine. Ten. Eleven.
“Hello, sir,” the cashier said.
He placed the saw on the counter with no reply. Fourteen. Fifteen.
“How are you?”
He glared at her. “Can you just hurry?” Nineteen. Twenty. Twenty-one.
“Okay. Is this all?” She tried to avoid eye contact.
He nodded and waited for the beep. She picked up the saw. He waited eagerly for the noise. Twenty-seven. Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine. She ran the saw over the scanner. Nothing. Forty-two. Forty-three. Forty-four. She tried to scan the saw again. Nothing. Sixty. Sixty-one. Sixty-TWO. SIXTY-THREE...
“I’m sorry, sir, the saw won’t…” A loud beep chimed. She gave a small, relieved smile. NINETY-FOUR. NINETY-FIVE.
He used both hands to fish the money out his pocket. She reached for the crinkled paper, but hesitated. The drawer wouldn’t open. ONE HUNDRED-ONE. ONE HUNDRED-TWO. She tried the register again. ONE HUNDRED-TEN. ONE HUNDRED-ELEVEN. He flung the money at her and started running for the door. He didn’t see the stack of lumber. He tripped and fell, his hands crushed between the floor and his chest. The saw clattered by his feet.
The cashier ran up to him. “Are you all right?” She helped him to his knees. He reached both hands toward the saw beside him. The jacket slid down his arms as he moved. She saw the silver rings around his wrists, connected by a chain. He stopped reaching for the saw. She met his gaze. His eyes filled with desperation.
They were the only two people left in the store.
About the Author:
Zachary Reinis is an artist and writer attending Castle Rock Middle School and is inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. When he’s not producing a dark work of fiction or creating nightmarish drawings, he enjoys discussing the awesomeness of graphic novels and well-written cartoons at great length. Though a very young writer, he enjoys practicing his craft, and many fear that he may become too talented as the years progress.
About the Bolide Publication:
The dark is illuminated only for an instant, a sudden flash of light, an explosive glimpse that streaks across the night sky. We have to imagine where that light originated, where it will go once it has left our sight, but in those brief moments, we glimpse something amazing. The Bolide, Tethered by Letters’ newest publication, is dedicated to these same flashes into the world of fiction. With stories of length varying between 55, 250, 500, and 750 words or less, we welcome writers to create their own literary shooting stars. Submissions are now open for the January edition of The Bolide. The deadline for this debut edition is the 15th of December. There is absolutely no reading fee or limit to the number of submissions. Remember, however, that you must be at the rank of Author to submit for possible publication, and we do not accept any submissions that are not correctly formatted (see specifications).