Flash Fiction: The Green Vial

Here's a little flash fiction story I did on a whim. When I finished, I thought it could be a nice opener to maybe a thriller kind of story.

All I can feel is the incessant pounding of rain on my head and shoulders. Everything’s blurry, but not from the rain. My head is swimming, much like the rest of this drowned city. My socks are drenched, I know that. Every step I take feels like I’m walking through a marsh.

That’s about as far as I can get.

I focus on putting one foot in front of the other, but even that proves difficult at the moment. I have no idea what happened, but I have a very real sense of danger telling me to continue forward. If only I could remember. Think. Nothing comes.

I forget the gaping hole in my memory and hurry down the sidewalk, but something’s not right.

Where is everybody?

I know it’s pouring rain, but I don’t see a single soul anywhere. No street vendors. No police patrols. No homeless. No cars on the street.

I’ve seen the city empty before late at night, but there was always someone out and about. And this was in the middle of the day.

The world blurs momentarily, and I have to prop myself up on the window of a store front to keep from falling face-first into a puddle. As I steady myself, I catch my reflection in the glass. I look like I haven’t shaved in days.

Days?

How have I forgotten days? The last thing I remember is…

I reach into my jacket pocket, fishing for a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from my forehead when my hand grazes a smooth, cylindrical object that I don’t recognize. Puzzled, I pull the object out of my pocket and find a small vial filled with a viscous green liquid. What is this, and how did it get in my pocket?

The feeling of dread returns. The hair on the back of my neck prickles, and I get that strange feeling that somebody is watching me.

I turn and see a man walking down the sidewalk, looking at me. My heart rate instantly quickens. Even though the man is smiling, I know that he has nothing but malice in store for me. His smile is too perfect, too polished. He looks like a plastic doll.

Without waiting, I pivot and head in the opposite direction at a brisk pace, trying not to look suspicious. My mind pushes my body faster than my wobbly legs can handle. Every once in a while, leg muscles give, and I nearly collapse, but adrenaline keeps me going. I clutch the vial tightly in my hand and push through the curtain of rain without looking back. My legs automatically lead me in the direction of my apartment, and as I round the corner, I take a peek.

Still there. In fact, he’s closer. As soon as I’m out of sight, I take off at a sprint. My legs still haven’t fully recovered, but I can at least run now, and my gut tells me that running is the key to making it out safely.

I take a few detours on the way, just to check and see if he’s really following me. Sure enough, I hear the rapid slapping of footsteps on wet pavement. Plastic Smile sure is persistent. I duck into an alleyway briefly and take the vial out again. Holding it between my thumb and forefinger, I turn the vial over several times, examining the liquid inside. It’s pretty transparent, but it sticks to the side of the vial like honey. Surely this little vial will connect me, this deserted city, my memory loss, and Smiley McSmiles.

I need answers, but from whom? Maybe if I can just get home, I can clear my foggy head and figure something out.

I listen. No footsteps, just the sound of rain pounding the city. Maybe I lost him.

I turn to head home and see nothing but teeth in my field of vision. Panic sets in. How did he sneak up on me like that?

He reaches a hand out without a word, but before he can grab my shoulder, I shove him into some trash cans nearby and take off. The clanging of the tin echoes off the walls.

My apartment is close. I’ll just have to risk it and head straight there. Home equals safety.

I hurry down the sidewalk, not caring about staying inconspicuous or the fact that I’m drenched at this point. Right now, I just want to be behind a locked door. I listen for footsteps behind me as I jet across the street without looking. He’s on my trail once more, but I don’t care. I only have to outrun him for a few blocks.

I round the corner of the market beside my apartment building and pull up immediately. He’s standing on the other end of the block. How? I dismiss the question and rush toward the door to my building. All I have to do is beat him to that door. I fumble through my keys as I reach the steel-barred entryway. My hands seize up momentarily, from nerves or whatever “they” gave me, I don’t know. I quickly check Mr. McSmiles as I find the correct key and find him casually strolling toward me. I don’t even stop to think about why he’s doing this and jam the key into the lock.

I turn when I reach the landing of the first set of stairs and see him standing outside the door. He’s not trying to get in. He’s just standing there, staring and smiling. I catch a look in his eyes though. It’s the first time I noticed anything except that plastic smile on his face. There’s something familiar there, but I dismiss it and continue up the stairs.

When I reach 4B, I head inside and secure all three locks on the door.

I’m home.

I’m safe.

I pull out the green vial once more. Curiosity overtakes me. I have to know what it is. So I down half the vial without a second thought.

I wait. And wait.

Nothing happens.

/