I follow Chuck Wendig's blog and every Friday he offers flash-fiction challenges. Today was rolling two genres and writing whatever comes. I got Lovecraftian Southern Gothic, which is interesting. I've started it but it feels bigger than just a small flash-fiction piece. Guess I'll keep it rolling. It's good for a few blog posts at least.
A red sun rose and broke the dim gray morning over the town. A dull lifeless landscape stretched for miles around, flat and arid. Something dark rose with the sun, seeping into the town, unknown and invisible.
Trucks and cars drove through the streets in the early morning at a slow pace, as if the vehicles shared their owner's tiredness.
The local diner, Tracy's had a scattering of vehicles around the parking lot. It was a simple building with faded red paint and a farmhouse feeling. The inside looked cozy, with tables close and a long counter. The sound of sizzling bacon and the general murmur of quiet conversation could be heard.
The folk inside were a mixture of locals from all about. There was an old couple drinking coffee and eating oatmeal, speaking loudly so they could hear each other. An old woman sipped tea and read a book. A tired group of younger men sat at a table, eating pancakes and downing coffee, wearing rough clothes of manual laborers. The lone waitress served everyone with a chipper smile and a "how do ya do this fine morning?" A big man cooked in the back and called out orders loud enough to be heard in the dining room. The sheriff sat at the counter with his hat on a stool beside him, a cup of joe in front of him and a newspaper spread out. For many, this was a morning like any other.
A rental car pulled into the lot, a flashy blue four-door that stood out.
Those sitting by the windows glanced out and frowned. An elderly fellow with a frumpy brown hat mumbled under his breath.
A man stepped out and entered the restaurant. He looked young and out of place, with slick black hair and wearing a rumpled suit.
Some folk gave him a glance and a frown. Others ignored him entirely.
"Hey, sit wherever you'd like," the waitress said from behind the counter.
The man grunted. "Coffee," he said, sitting down next to the sheriff. His eyes were bloodshot.
The sheriff gave him a look before going back to the paper. "New in town?"
"Yeah," the man said.
The waitress poured his coffee and pushed it in front of him. "How do ya do, this fine morning?" She asked.
He waved a dismissive hand. "Nothing else, thank you." He ignored the question.
Her mouth thinned but she just turned away to grab a plate of food and bring it to a table.
The sheriff turned a page of the newspaper.
The stranger sipped at the coffee and made a face. He asked for cream and poured three or four into the cup.
"New in town?" The sheriff asked.
"Yes, yes I am."
"What's your business, if you don't mind my asking."
"Looking for you, actually."
"That'd be me. Can't say I know your name, though."
"Hodson. Derek Hodson."
Anderson hesitated flipping the page. He sighed, folding up the paper. "I see," he said.
"I'm looking for my brother. Haven't heard from him in awhile."
"I knew him."
Derek nodded. "I would hope so. He lived here for five years."
Anderson sipped at his coffee and put on his hat. "Good luck in your search. I got business to be about."
Derek put out a hand to stop him. "My brother hasn't sent a letter in three months. His house is deserted. You telling me you don't know anything?"
"He's gone. That's what I know." Anderson took a step.
Derek caught Anderson's sleeve "Where did he go? Small town like this, somebody has to know something."
Anderson pulled out of Derek's grip. "I told you. He's gone." The sheriff tipped his hat to the waitress and left.
Derek turned back to his bitter coffee. He ordered a big breakfast plate and more coffee. With nothing else to do, he took the newspaper left by the sheriff and started reading it.
Before he got his breakfast, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He was a big fellow with a trucker hat and a mean mustache. "You askin' about Hodson?" The man asked in a deep rumble.
"Yeah," Derek said.
"Don't," the man replied and turned away.
"He's my brother."
"Not anymore." The man left the place, got into a big red truck and drove off.
"What the fuck is wrong in this town?" Derek asked, as a big plate of eggs, toast, homefries, and pancakes was put in front of him. At least it looked good. He poured maple syrup on it and ate, wondering just what the hell happened to his brother.