This is part of Chuck Wendig’s http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/08/30/flash-fiction-challenge-choose-your-setting-2/ I rolled Monster Brothel,.
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Weighing in at 1086 words, here is:
Her Name Was Whisper
“She used to be a Sil-what?”
“Quiet, or she’ll hear you. She used to be a silsa, it’s Vaner for washable bag.”
“What the hell does that even mean?” Jigs Ocher Finlay bellowed and waved the pyropen in the air. He stopped working on a figure he’d recently begun for a client. Around him, brass, copper, and coils littered his work table. Below it were chunks of unworked metals and wood. On it were four current pieces. Above it were the finished products, handmade windup toys based off of the features of client’s children. Monday’s pickup had a little girl in helium boots that zoomed up and floated down a copper shaft. Tuesday’s pickup, the one he’d just finished, was for twins and had the girl shooting a ray gun at her brother – who countered with a net launcher – as they played around the chair of an abandoned airship. It was the most expensive piece to date and required resetting after each windup.
A fly landed on Jigs nose. He swiped at his face his free arm. The motion scattered the loops on his brass magnifying lenses. With a sigh, he turned off the pyropen.
“Qui-ET, or she’ll hear you.” Elanie glared, daring her husband to misread the set of her jaw. She sat two feet away on the floor, adding their signature durability to finished toys. The two-fold process was slow, the oil-based coating had to dry before a sealant stroke could be applied, but the end result was worth it. The combination kept the keepsakes as clean as the day they were assembled.
“Well,” Jigs said, and looked at her face, then lowered his voice, “what the hell does that even mean?”
Elanie mopped her forehead and glanced to the front of the store where Whisper sat in the window –a silver, triple-tiered lace ladies ascot for work in the lap of her form-fitting pencil skirt – and watched aero-scooters zip by. She had brassy auburn curls, large and immaculate, swept back in two butterfly clips at her crown. In her heart-shaped face were gold eyes below lashes black as night and thick as shag. Twin dimples pierced with gold studs framed baby pink, cupid’s bow lips on either side.
She felt Elanie’s gaze and turned.
Elanie smiled and waved.
Whisper looked back out the window.
Elanie shrugged and readied the sealant. “Why do you think she followed us home from Two Hots and a Cot?”
“She needed help.”
“Could’ve gotten that there. She followed us home because your cooking is terrible, if you want the truth.” With a steady hand she applied the first stroke deftly, then fanned the brass figure.
Jigs stopped unbuttoning his leather apron, “Nobody’s ever complained down there before.”
“They’re hungry. Of course they don’t complain. Your soup still tastes like two sticks sautéed in milk.” She chuckled, and began on the next stroke.
“Listen, what’s your point, you old bag?” Jigs said, and whipped his apron off. He was all bluster, though. He knew it, and his wife of forty years knew it.
“She’s a Siphon, Jigs. She siphons and reflects emotion. That’s why she wears ribbons around her wrists to hide the sensors.”
“Okay, so what’s that got to do with my cooking?”
“That damn fantasy peddler uptown, Emmanuel Bassil, what do you think he’d do with someone who’d love every one of his clients, as long as they desired…” Elanie’s words trailed off and she bit her lip. She tried to focus on the toy in front of her, but couldn’t. Em Bassil, that-
“-son of a bitch,” Jig said.
The two looked at their waif by the window. Elanie promised herself she would help the girl no matter what came on the heels of such a promise, be it hell for them or peace for her.
Whisper rested against the wagon wheel wood frame of the window and played with a silk bow on her wrist. Every few seconds she touched the Durable plug Elanie had made her. Because of Bassil, she’d built up a tolerance to the plug. Still, the woman’s kindness meant something to her. She just was not sure what, yet.
“I want a list of every single man’at visits that ‘monster brothel’. I don’t care how much we lose, we won’t serve a one of the pricks again!”
“Quiet, or she’ll hear-“
Her eyes rolled back into her head.
“I don’t care, Elanie- Ow! What was that for?”
“Flashbacks, you halfwit, she gets flashbacks…”
Too late. Whisper crumpled.
‘I love you, come back!’ she beat on the door, but he was already long gone, as were his promises.
A chute on her left popped open. The temporary insertable clinked inside with a note that read, ‘Next?’.
This was her love, how could she forget in a few minutes like it meant nothing? She crawled away and curled into a ball, exhausted.
“You’ll change your mind. You always do,” said a voice from a window in the door.
An hour later, her eyes were almost swollen shut. Every time hurt more. The dissolvable plug was becoming less effective, too. Someday it wouldn’t work. Would he let her go then? When she couldn’t give body and heart to the ‘next’?
She sniffled and once again pretended to insert the 20 minute, dissolvable plug in order to recharge for the next customer he brought her. Steps moved away from the door, and she slipped it in her garter belt along with two days’ worth of plugs, then began to change her satin sheets with fresh ones.
There was only one way to find out.
“I’m fanning her, I’m fanning her,” an older man said.
The air felt fresh even if it wasn’t very cool. Whisper began to stir.
“Take her to rest,” a female voice clucked. “I told you she’d hear!”
“Can I know what this has to do with my cooking, now?”
“She gets flashbacks, Jigs, and Bassil’s no cheapskate. Beautiful rooms, mythic women, heady aromas, flutes, and lastly-”
The man interrupted, “Delicious food. All right. My terrible cooking is good for her. I got it. Could’ve just said it was like the place I stole you from, you gnome.”
A wet rag was placed on her head, then footsteps rushed away from her across the room.
“Damn dwarf, I swear…”, the female voice muttered, and returned to her side.
Tears coursed down Whisper’s cheeks, but not in pain. No, this, these two bickering old fogies…would be a good memory.