Back in 2010, when Black Earth: End of the Innocence – Book 1 in my Black Earth series – was released, I also released five separate flash fiction stories that I inconspicuously hid on my website for fans to find. Since close to nobody knew what the Black Earth series was even about, I didn’t have much success getting the stories read.
I’ve dug them out of the vault (my hard drive) and am releasing them in blog posts – one each Wednesday for the next five Wednesdays. I also have plans to make them available on my website in the very near future.
Each flash fiction story pertains to one specific character from the Black Earth series – Cynthia Ruin, Heather Rhodes, Howard Grey, Nathan Pierce, and Daisy Pierce – and each takes place shortly before the events of End of the Innocence unfold.
So without further ado, here is the first of the five flash fiction pieces:
Pizza Ambush –
“So, Nathan, what did you say you were going to college for?”
He set his slice of pepperoni pizza down on his plate. “Astronomy.”
“Astronomy?” Shannon’s mother asked, startled at the answer.
He nodded, picking his pizza back up. He crammed it in his mouth and took a large bite, hoping that he wouldn’t be able to answer anymore of her stupid questions for a little while.
Shannon, who was sitting to his right, turned to him with a bright smile on her face. “I told my mom that you might want to check out other interests when you actually get down to the college.”
He took a few moments, chewing his pizza with a slow regard for the crowd he was with. Shannon’s father, Gary Cook, was at the end of the table minding his own business. He looked up occasionally, giving Nathan an evil glare when he did. Shannon’s mother, Christina Cook, seemed intent on interrogating him until he died there in the pizza parlor, but what could he expect from a psychiatrist? And then there was Shannon, who wasn’t all that supportive of his academic pursuits to begin with. What was he doing with her again?
He was almost done chewing but decided to slow it down a bit, desiring to tally up better things he could be doing at the moment, like playing his Playstation 2 or hanging out with Heather. Taking a walk on the surface of the sun sounded good too, but he would opt for the two previous things first before looking into that.
“Nathan, did you hear what my mom asked you?”
He snapped out of his daze, swallowing the finely chewed pizza. “What?”
Christina adjusted her glasses and glared at him. “I asked what your plans for a job are after you graduate high school.”
“I’m going to apply at the grocery store.”
She scowled. Shannon shifted uncomfortably in her chair. He moved ‘walking on the sun’ to the top of his list.
“Dear, you can’t be serious. You’re going into college on a limited income. You can’t expect to handle all of your finances by working at the local supermarket.”
“I won’t really have any expenses. I’ll be living with my family.”
“What about when you and I want to go out?”
He turned to Shannon. “What are you talking about?”
“How are you going to pay for our dates?”
“Yes, I too am curious how you’re going to take care of my daughter. She may be older than you, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have certain social responsibilities.”
What are these crazy’s talking about?
He glanced over to Gary. The man looked up, glared at him, and then went back to eating his food. Nathan wondered if her cop dad had his gun on him at the moment.
Shannon grasped his arm. “Honey, I really want you to rethink what you want to do with your life. You have so much potential…”
“I’ve been dreaming about astronomy since I was ten. That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s the interest that God gave me, so it’s the one I’m going to pursue.”
Christina shook her head. “God? Here we go again. Shannon, what did I tell you about this?”
Her daughter nodded, pulling away from him. “I know. It’s what he believes in though, mom.”
Are they aware that I’m sitting right here?
Christina threw her napkin down and excused herself from the table.
Silence spread across their corner of the restaurant. Nathan turned to Shannon. She was cradling her head in her arms, staring at the table with a frown.
“Just so we’re clear, you guys are covering dinner tonight, right?”
Her father looked up from his food and sighed.
Copyright © 2010 David N. Alderman