The Laughing Death

Dan Alatorre Flash Fic & #BlogBattle Challenges

Here’s my entry for author Dan Alatorre’s Best Christmas Flash Fiction Challenge. I’m going to attempt to combine it with my own #BlogBattle “Tango” story. We’ll see what craziness I create.

THE RULES (Of Dan’s Challenge)

First of all you go to this website: http://www.kitt.net/php/title.php  And get six titles. Pick ONE to build your Christmas Themed Flash Fiction story around.

  1. You write 1000 words more or less on the now-Christmassy topic
  2. Post it on your blog
  3. Reference us on your blog and this challenge so your regular readers don’t think you’ve gone batty.
  4. Post your link to your story here in the comments section.
  5. You have until Friday 12 noon EST, on 12/18/2015, that’s Tampa Florida US of A time, for those of you who live elsewhere.

I got six titles and chose The Laughing Death. We’ll see how Christmasy I can be with that, shall we?


The Laughing Death

Beware the words of a fool, for soon he speaks and proves his foolishness. Sound advice for one who has a tendency to mouth off a little too much. Terrance could use sarcasm with the best of ’em, and not a day went by he didn’t use his “gift.”

He was feeling particularly sarcastic the day before Christmas Eve as he stood in line in the BigWorldMart checkout line. The lines at all the registers seemed to stretch on and on with no end, and he could feel the antsy wiggles taking over his otherwise adult body.

“Could these checkers be any slower?” he said, grumbling under his breath.

“What was that, sonny?”

An age-bent, weary looking little woman stood in front of him in line and stared back with a mischievous sparkle glinting in her blue eyes.

“I said the moon is going to crash on the building any second. Mind your own business, lady.”

“Aw, now sonny, that’s no way to talk to an old woman. Didn’t your mama teach you any manners?”

Terrance’s exasperation was made evident by the rolling of his eyes accompanied by a heavy sigh.

“You need to come up with some new lines, lady. Apparently those kids your generation raised didn’t learn manners well enough to bother teaching their kids how to behave. We’re all a bunch of idiotic, disrespectful clowns. Turn around and push your cart. Bother somebody else.”

“I’d say Merry Christmas, Terry my boy, but I think it’d be lost on you.”

At first, Terrance was relieved she’d turned around, but then after a minute or two of feeling triumphant, the niggling of something started to pester his already perturbed thoughts.

“Wait a second. How’d you know my name?”

“What was that, sonny?”

“How. Did. You. Know. My. Name?”

“I’m old but not deaf, sonny. I have no idea what your name is.”

“But you just called me Terry.”

“Did no such thing.”

“I’m not crazy, lady. You called me Terry. I don’t know you.”

He watched her roll her eyes and press her ear then mumble something while staring up at the helium balloons strategically placed at the counters. He leaned in to hear what she was mumbling.

” . . . Tango, Echo, Romeo, Romeo, Alpha, November, Charlie, Echo. Over.”

“What on earth are you doing? Are you crazy? Great. I’m in line behind some crazy lady. Do you have like thirty cats at home? Are you one of those homeless people walking down the street talking to themselves all the time?”

The old woman turned her full attention back to Terrance and gave him a tolerant look.

“Terry, my boy, you have been naughty. Santa is extremely disappointed in your behavior over the course of the last twenty-two years, and he is offering you an ultimatum.”

Terrance glanced over her shoulder but the line hadn’t moved in five minutes. He stared at the frail woman again, but couldn’t believe a word he was hearing.

“C’mon. You really are crazy.”

“Oh. Hold on a moment, sonny. Santa is talking in my ear again.” She turned and looked up again whilst pressing her ear. “Copy that. Terrance Gle–yes. Tango-Echo-Romeo–yes, sir. If that’s the only option. Over.”

Watching her talk to herself was more amusing than staring at all the glum faces all around, so Terrance decided to humor the loony old bat.

“What did Santa have to say?”

The look she wore was sorrowful, but Terrance wanted to smile, thinking the whole thing would be a funny story to tell his buddies at the party later that evening.

“Oh, Terry, dear boy. You are in serious trouble here. Santa’s concern over your naughty meter is grave, and that’s where you’ll end up if you don’t change your ways.”

“What? The grave?”

She nodded, the frown creasing her brow deepening her plethora of wrinkles into a mask of depressed frightfulness.

“Good thing for me everybody dies, eventually.”

“Oh, but Terry, you’ll suffer the laughing death.”

The line inched forward in front of them and Terrance motioned for the wilted lady to move ahead all while trying to ignore the tickling sensation traveling up his spine at her ridiculous yet solemn words.

She shook her head and looked so authentically dismal that Terrance almost felt sorry for her, for messing with her the way he was. His mother really wouldn’t be happy with him for picking on a poor old granny, two days before Christmas of all times.

“Listen, gran, I promise to straighten up, okay? Does that make you feel better?”

She was next for the checker, but didn’t unload her cart. Instead she faced him and said, “Terrance, you had best follow through on that because the laughing death is no laughing matter. If you hear, ho ho ho, know you will not make it through another night.”

Terrance’s raised eyebrows could not convey the incredulity he felt over her insane words, and while he wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it, he also sensed something else: truth.

“You have until midnight of Christmas Eve to change your ways. Merry Christmas, my boy,” she said and disappeared.


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