Monday, April 8, 2013

Winning Flash - "Last Call" by Dan Pietrasik

We have a winner! I launched another flash fiction contest a month ago and what follows is our winning story. The entries had to be under 1,000 words, have a speculative fiction element and involve one or more mirror balls. I kicked it off with a story of my own, "Mirror Images". Our winning author, Dan Pietrisk not only is published here on Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys, he also has a mirror ball, complete with a motor to turn it on its way to him. Lucky him, huh?

"Last Call"
by Dan Pietrasik

Based on how many people are already here, I'll be eating well tonight. The sun is barely down and there's already a nice selection on the dance floor and milling around the tables. A guy like me will have no problems.
“Here you go, buddy,” the bartender says, handing me a Long Island Iced Tea.
I include a non-memorable tip when I pay him, and move on to a table. The big mirror behind the bartender bothers me. Not that I worry about a mortal noticing I don't have a reflection. They usually come up with some lame excuse on their own about line of sight or something. If they don't, it only takes a little mental push to give them the idea. The part where a mirror absorbs a piece of me instead of reflecting it back is what creeps me out. The table is also a better hunting position.
I sit and watch the herd for a while, wondering why another vampire hasn't claimed this place. Not just quantity, but quality of feeding here. A waitress catches my eye as she leans on the bar chatting with the bartender, but I know better than to choose from the staff -- at least if I want to come back. And I think I'd be a fool to not frequent these grounds. With a quick glance around I can see two women I'm definitely putting on the menu, and at least a dozen that wouldn't require lowering my standards.
“Ready for a refill?”
I look up over my left shoulder as the waitress I noticed earlier pulls her hand back from mine. Apparently I didn't hear her the first time. It's nice to be able to control my hearing enough to come into clubs and not be overwhelmed, but not hearing someone approach because of it takes some getting used to. I order another drink, the better to blend in. She's checking me out more than I'd like for someone on my Don't Drink Here list, so I send a little extra “ignore me” vibe her way. If she forgets to bring my drink, so be it.
I pick out my first appetizer. A young woman obviously drowning her sorrows in a girls' night out, and far enough into it that her friends won't notice the effects on her if I take a little off the top. I'm sure she'll appreciate the attention, even if she doesn't remember me afterward. And just a couple of unexplained wounds to differ tomorrows aches and pains from any other hangover. I'm about to make my move when the waitress comes back with my drink and sits across from me at the table.
“I just wanted you to know,” she says with a smile, “I can take a break now and dance, before we're too busy.”
I really need to work on turning down the attraction level, this is not the right kind of attention.  Sticking with drunk patrons for my meals is so much less complicated, and if I get carried away, much less inconvenient. But turning down an attractive offer to dance is not the way to avert attention. There's definitely worse sacrifices I've had to make than a little exertion with a hot woman. I've always been a sucker for the assertive but shy thing she has going on, coming up to me like this, but keeping her eyes slightly downcast while waiting for my answer. I'm hooked when she reaches up to scratch an itch on the side of her neck. Besides, she'll go back to work after one dance, and write me off as a player when she sees how many others I plan to go through tonight.
“Then let's dance,” I say, standing and offering her my hand.
She laughs at my gesture, and with a quick tug on my sleeve heads to the dance floor. At the edge, she turns to make sure I'm following and starts to dance. I glide smoothly into my carefully restrained, “let the woman I'm with appreciate me, but don't draw stares” moves.    She's using her whole  body, spinning and swaying, drawing me after her toward the center of the floor, but still not meeting my eyes. I sense the blood rushing through her veins, feel its pull. I'm getting worked up. All my urges are focused on her.
My hunger is growing as she dances. I need to break away before I succumb, but I can't. Why can't I look away? Why aren't I closing in? I've stopped dancing. I'm just staring at her. She finally looks me in the eye, but I can't catch her. Her smile has changed. Leaning forward, she whispers in my ear.
“Last call.”
She dances back again, raising her arms over her head. My eyes follow her hands as they go up. She's pointing toward the ceiling. I look up further, and see that we're dancing directly below a triangle of disco balls.
Hundreds of little mirrors. Flashing. Rotating. Pulling me apart. 


Dan Pietrasik is a reader and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two kids and three cats. A programmer by profession, he also dabbles in improvisational comedy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story