Friday Flash: Like a Bullet in the Back

21 Jan

A very short flash piece today, inspired by having watched too many episodes in a row of the UK version of Being Human and listening too many times to Florence + the Machine’s Dog Days Are Over.


Hannah expected to feel many things when she died, but happiness wasn’t one of them.

To say that Hannah was acerbic would be putting it mildly. Take all the bitter unpopular women from TV shows and movies and remove any of the soft or caring parts and you would get Hannah. She had no friends (they would have just let her down if she had had any). Her coworkers only talked to her when they needed to (besides they were all after her job). And her family, well, her family gave up on her once she reached her early twenties (it was all her mother’s fault, of course).

The medical examiner performing her autopsy couldn’t find any cause of death. “The body just stopped working,” was what he told a colleague although “heart failure” was what he officially said.

It happened at one-forty-six on a Thursday afternoon, just as Hannah was finishing her lunch. As usual, the food wasn’t up to par and she had needed to choke down the nearly inedible stuff with a barely passable Grand Reserve red wine from the Spanish Rioja district. She had paid her bill, in cash, to the penny (without a tip to the incompetent staff) and stood to leave. As she did so, she spied a young couple gazing at each other with an embarrassing level of affection for each other. Hannah rolled her eyes and clamped down on the desire to say something (it wouldn’t have done any good if she had) and began to stalk out of the restaurant.

The thing is, the happiness that was building up between the deeply infatuated couple needed somewhere to go. They were already full up with it and other than their minor annoyance at Hannah’s attitude the two waitresses were pretty happy people too.

This left only one vessel.

Now normally when happiness makes a leap from one person to another, nothing happens. In most chi-chi places like this restaurant, everyone already enjoys a good level of happiness, so excess happiness spreads itself about.

Hannah, however, at that particular moment was like a happiness black hole and all the excess happiness shot into Hannah like a bullet. Her body, so used to bitterness, anger and disgust, couldn’t handle the shock of sudden unmotivated happiness and it did what all bodies do when they’re overloaded. It shorted out and ceased to function.

As Hannah fell, unrestrained joy coursed through her body for the first time in her life, from the tips of her perfectly manicured toes to the folicles of her low maintenance hair.

In her typical manner, her only thought as she went down as “what the fuh” but before she could complete the exclamation she was already dead. Fortunately for Hannah, when her body died it took the bitterness with it.

And that’s when she really started to live.


Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Friday flash, Online Fiction


6 responses to “Friday Flash: Like a Bullet in the Back

  1. Lara Dunning

    January 22, 2011 at 3:54 am

    I like Hannah and how flawed she is. You’ve set the stage well to understand her mind and her reaction to the revelation that was given to her at death. Enjoyed it!

    • Alex

      January 24, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      I’m not sure what Hannah will do with her death, but move on surely not. Now that she’s full of happiness instead of bitterness she needs to go explore the world.

      That is a tough question, isn’t it? Too bad she let herself have such a crappy life but yay at least to her soul (?) getting it right after so.

      Thanks! Every once in a while I like to get allegorical with my emotional imagery. 😉

  2. Steve Green

    January 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Quite an enjoyable and unusual story Alex, It’s hard to know whether to feel sorry for Hannah’s wasted life, or glad for her new-found happiness, even though it be in death.

  3. Aidan Fritz

    January 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Fun premise with the happiness spreading itself out. Loved the viewpoint inflections of unhappiness you capture with Hannah.

  4. Magaly Guerrero

    January 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    PLEASE tell me she’ll be back. It would be wonderful to see how she’ll act; and better yet, how she would interact with the living.

    • Alex

      January 29, 2011 at 9:25 am

      I’m pretty sure she’ll be back, both as her pre and post-dead selves. Glad you enjoyed it!


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