So, here’s how this is going to work. The website io9.com posts a piece of concept art every Saturday challenging its viewers to write a piece of flash fiction based on that art. Stories must be less than eight hundred words. As of the time of this blog posting, there are thirty-five images online. There may be more and I failed to uncover them by searching for the wrong terms, but eh. I think thirty-five’s a plenty big pool to draw from. On that note, I’m going to assign each a number, with the newest being 35 and the oldest being 1. Today, Monday, and Friday, I’m going to generate a random number within that range and write a piece of flash fiction on the prompt. Exciting, no?
The first piece will be entitled “Take Off Your Shoes, Please,” inspired by Todd Baxter’s “Rug Monster.” I don’t own this image, I claim no rights to this image, and should Todd Baxter ever stumble across this post and demand that the image be removed, I will gladly do so. Also, you should go check out Todd’s website at: http://www.baxterphoto.com/.
Anyway, let’s begin!
Hi! How are you? Come in, come in. Let me take your coat. Can I get you anything to drink? Water, soda, beer, wine? Oh, take off your shoes, please.
I’m glad you could make it. I know traffic must have been Hell, and I’m sure you’re tired after your flight, but it just wouldn’t be a party without you, you know? Plus, I like showing off the new place.
Heh. Yes, that’s me, humble as ever.
Come say hello. You already know David and Susan, but let me introduce you to Carl and Layla. Brad’s supposed to be coming by later with his new boyfriend, but, well, you know how Brad can be. If he shows up at all, he’s going to show up two hours late and with somewhere else he needs to go to. Anyway, Carl’s a doctor and Layla’s an artist. Post-modern impressionism and podiatry.
What? Oh, excuse me. Post-post-modern expressionism. All the difference in the world.
Oh, I am not being mean! It is all the difference in the world! It’s the difference between dots and demons! Between Monet and Bacon!
Yeah, you didn’t think I’d know any Impressionists or Expressionist, did you? Well, I do. So there.
No, I don’t know any others! I didn’t go to art school! I– look, I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I didn’t mean to. I’m an uneducated, uncultured Philistine, but I’m trying to be a good host, so I’m going to get my guest a drink. Excuse me.
Ugh. Sorry about that. They’re lovely people. Just… a bit high-strung. Anyway, here. Let me make you a cocktail, and then we’ll– Oh, I’m sorry. I really must insist that you take off your shoes. Wouldn’t want you stepping on Snudgy, now.
Snudgy. My pet. Came with the apartment.
Oh, God. Did I not tell you about Snudgy? Oh. Well. Hm. Surprise, I guess!
Here, we might as well get this over with. Here, boy! Come here, Snudgy! Come here, Snudgsters!
Hm. Shy, I guess. He’s not used to meeting too many strangers. Snudgy, come! I’ve got a treat for you!
The wine? Oh, don’t worry about it. He loves merlots. Cleans them right up.
There we go! Say hi, Snudgy! Snudgy, meet– Snudgy, stop that! I’m sorry. I’ve trained him not to beg, but he always tries it with new people just to test them. Don’t give him any of your wine or he’ll follow you around all night, whimpering and cooing and making this weird clicking noise. I’m not quite sure how he does that one. I mean, I’m not sure how he does any of them, but the clicking noise is really weird.
No, he’s harmless. He doesn’t bite. How could he? I wouldn’t recommend stepping on him if you’re barefoot, but he doesn’t want to be stepped on anymore than you want to step on him. He won’t get underfoot. Really, taking the shoes off is more for his protection than yours.
Oh, don’t give him too much. If he gets drunk, he’s just going to bump into the walls and the furniture. Yes, kind of like a Roomba, exactly. Cuter, though. I think.
What? He came with the house, like I said. No, I don’t know exactly that he’s a “he.” No, it’s not heteronormativity! How is assuming the gender of an animal heteronormativity? I think that– Oh, stay out of this, Layla! If I wanted to get into the gender politics of monsters, I’d have stayed in college!
Oh, he’s scared! He has sensitive hearing, I think. Or he’s sensitive to vibrations. Or something. Loud noises upset him, at any rate. It’s okay, Snudgy. It’s okay. Here, have some more merlot.
Aw. Isn’t he great? I can’t remember the last time I had to clean up after a spill.
Ha. Yes. “Rug muncher.” Never heard that one before… Wait, that gets a pass, but calling him a he is cause for an uproar? Hmph. How is that fair?
Well, whatever. Here, let’s go sit in the living room. No, he’ll follow us. He likes being around people. You can pet him, if you like. Kind of like, yeah, like petting a shag carpet. Exactly. Except he’s warm. Aw, he likes you! How cute. Oh, don’t set your glass on the floor. He’ll crawl under it to knock it over. He does that with food, too. You should have seen the last time I had people over. So much wasted brie…
Oh! The door!
Brad! Good to see you. Don’t just stand there, come in! Who’s this?
Wonderful. Good to meet you. Can I get you a drink? We have water, soda, beer, and– oh, can you take off your shoes, please?