#5MinuteFiction: Week 135

It’s 5 Minute Fiction time! You know the rules (and if you don’t, check here — and make it quick because you’ve only got a few minutes!). A reminder–don’t forget your Twitter address if you’ve got one!

Here is your prompt:

Your entry must must begin with: How many steps does it take until

NOTE: the photo is not part of the prompt–it’s decorative/inspirational only!

:- Staircase

A Few Notes:

  • In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box or notepad. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry. If your entry doesn’t appear right away, email me.
  • I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.
  • This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.

Go, go, go! You’ve got until 8:45p EST (on the dot. Yes, I’m serious) to submit your entry in the comments section of this post.

I’ll see you back here at 10p EST with the finalists and an exciting announcement!

*photograph courtesy of Rob Warde

19 Responses

  1. How many steps does it take until you reach your destination? Sometimes it seems like it would be uncountable, instead of just 12. She was on step 8, making a list of all those she had wronged when she was drinking, and the list was long. Janie felt she would never be done, would never reach that 12th step. The chips she had accumulated sometimes seemed to mock her; everytime she had a setback and had to start over, when she tossed the new chip in with the others, it seemed to clang loudly, even though it was just a plastic chip hitting other plastic chips.

    Janie stopped for a moment to collect her thoughts, and went back to making her list. She just wanted to get to the next step, and that meant finishing this one.


  2. How many steps does it take until you are finally out the door? How many black eyes? Bruises on the cheek? How many long sleeved shirts to cover the scars on your wrists, the cuffs of each sleeve pulled loose from your constant tugging to hide the jagged slits of skin.

    How many more apologies will you accept? How many more lies will you believe? Each time, his song and dance is the same. The same rhythm and blues, you know the melody by heart. His enthusiasm weakens with each performance, the uncommitted actor. But he continues to swing and tap across the stage, continues his nightly encores, always aware he has a captive audience.


  3. “How many steps does it take to get the evil out of me?” Jordan demanded. He’d been at this for months, this self-exorcism or whatever it was. For some reason, he had grown to trust this man called Nails, as weird as his name was, as strange as his words were, as odd as, as, as HE was.

    But what did Jordan expect when trying to exorcise his demons himself? All his research told him it had never been done before. He didn’t believe in priests. For too many years, they had let him down. They were no closer to God than he was. But he was damned if he’d let that stop him from getting closer, and this was the way.

    Jordan first met Nails at a bar and at first couldn’t believe what was happening. It had seemed so perfect, like someone had answered his prayers, his feverish prayers in the night begging his evils to leave him. But Nails showing up at the bar was a little too perfect in retrospect.

    The dark, hatted figure with snakeskin boots, complete with cobra heads on the toe tips, was a little too eager to make Jordan’s acquaintance. Jordan was a little sloshed that night, no surprise, and didn’t argue with the man when he said Jordan just needed to go home. Little did he know he was going home with Nails.

    Nails started giving him tips that sounded oddly like steps in a recipe book only Jordan was the main ingredient. Jordan puppy dog-like followed them for the last few weeks until he came to the most recent. He read it out loud for the fifth time, “Dip your bare toe in dog feces, stand on your head for 10 minutes, and keep your eyes closed. After the 10 minutes, chase the nearest neighbor into your home and serve him or her tea. Take the neighbor’s tea cup and tell your neighbor his or her fortune. That is your fortune as well.”

    It was the most ludicrous thing he’d heard in a while. Nails knew where he lived. His nearest neighbor was a mile away.

  4. Hunger Fullfilled
    by Lisa McCourt Hollar

    How many steps does it take until I reach home? My feet move of their own accord. I no longer notice the rocks that dig into my feet, cutting through the thin tread of my shoes. My heart beats, agonizingly inside of my chest. Each breath is painful and the blood oozing from my side has slowed. I don’t think this is a good thing. I’m dying, but my body refuses to stop. My feet continue down the road, past the devastation of what had once been my world.

    Tommy Stevens waves at me as I walk past. He’s got a whole in his face. I know that I should stop and help him, but the only thing I want is to get home. That’s interesting the way he’s pulled Shelly Michael’s innards out. Smells pretty good actually. Maybe I should stop and take a bit… but I can’t. I have to get home. There is a need inside of me that is greater than the hunger that calls me.

    I see it! I try to increase my pace, but there’s something wrong with my right leg. I can’t move it so I have to drag it behind. It’s painful. I pull myself up the steps, yelling for someone to open the door. I hear the reason I needed to come home… my daughter. She is screaming. I don’t wait for someone to open the door, but bash the glass in instead. The glass cuts my face, but I don’t care. My daughter is terrified.

    Jonathan, my husband… her father… has killed them. My son is lying on the floor, a hole in his head. My mother… oh my God, he cut her head off. My Juliann is the only one left alive. He has her cornered and is aiming the axe at her head.

    “NOOOO!” I scream, but it comes out more of a grunt. He turns, terrified. He lifts the axe to hit my head, but misses. My arm is now gone but that doesn’t stop me. I am on him, knocking him to the ground. His blood oozes into my mouth and I call for Juliann to join me. We feast together, our first taste of human flesh. The zombie apocalypse isn’t as bad as I had been led to believe.


  5. “How many steps does it take until I become rich? That’s the question you’re all here to have answered, right?” Dr. Max stopped mid-stride to watch the audience nod their heads. “Good. With Dr. Max’s patented system, you can get rich in just five easy steps. No more driving to work in a car that was made before you were born. No more feeling embarrassed when you don’t have enough money to buy your date dinner. No more tying a noose after looking at your checking account. Does this sound like what you want?” They nodded. “I knew you were smart people. I’ve helped thousands of people get rich quick and I can help you too.”

    “What’s step one?” someone shouted from the audience.

    “Step one? Step one is to buy my book which lists steps two to five.”


  6. “How many steps does it take until it’s over?”
    Andrew looked over at his best friend, Kanisha. Surrounding her were millions of white wadded tear infested tissues. She curled into the fetal position in her favorite blue and bubble gum pink night clothes.
    Sighing, he replied, “Until what’s over?”
    He already knew where she was going with this.
    “The pain is too much for me, Drew.”
    He nodded.
    “How many steps does it take until it’s over?”
    He cleared his throat and looked up at her. “Heartbreak isn’t some twelve step program, Kan-Kan.”
    She heaved and heavy sigh and blew her nose. “I was afraid you were going to say that.”
    “Here’s the thing, though,” he turned to fully face her. “You’re never going to know how many steps there are if you stay in here on this couch. Sobbing.”
    “It hurts,” she replied with a tiny voice.
    “So you’ve said.”
    Andrew felt bad for having a slight attitude. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about Kanisha.
    But, he could care less about Steve.
    And Steve’s choice in breaking up with girls.
    And Steve’s choice in rebound women.
    And Steve’s need to breathe oxygen like most humans.
    Despite his feelings, he still needed to be there for his friend.
    So, he grabbed her hand and smiled. “Come one. Let’s go find out how many steps it will take to get out of this apartment.”
    She frowned. “Do I look like I’m trying to leave?”
    “No. Thus, lies our problem,” he pushed her in the direction of her room. “Count how many steps it takes to get to your bedroom. Change. Then count your way back out here to me.”
    “What will you wear?”
    “Great thing about being a guy,” Drew grinned. “Jeans and T’s seem to be our general uniform.”
    She smiled for a second and turned to go to her room. It was a spark of light in a dark room: hopeful.
    He grinned, watching the first signs of life come back to her when her cell phone vibrated on the couch she vacated. Leaning down, he picked it up.
    It was Steven.
    Frowning, he answered it.
    “Before you hang up, please hear me out!” Steve’s voice poured out in sickening sounds of non-sincereity. “We can get past this, right? We’ve gone through worse things before. Say you’ll forgive me. I’ll come over and we can spend some time-”
    “I’m sorry, but the girl you’re trying to call is in the process of getting over you. Please don’t leave a message.”
    Hanging it up, feeling proud of himself, he stuffed her phone in her pocket.
    It vibrated again.
    He ignored it.
    His smile grew even larger when Kanisha stepped out with two different dresses in hand. “Black or red?”

  7. How many steps does it take until you can no longer walk? How many steps until the world decides to put a giant abyss in your way and you can only watch as the door closes and the many deadbolts lock? How many steps does you take without noticing my heart is clinging to your shoelaces? How many steps until you pick it and return it? How many steps can it hang in for?

  8. “How many steps does it take until you’ve gone one step too far?” she wonders.

    She looks at their shoes, hands in her pockets. There’s maybe a metre between the point of her shiny black boots and the battered rim of his scuffed up trainers. Two steps, maybe one. That’s all it would take to close the gap between them, to put her forehead in front of his lips, to have them breathing each other’s air.

    She looks up, looks into his eyes, sees the sore red that lines them. Air puffs from his nostrils, misting in the cold. He looks away, lip under his teeth, throat working.

    One step. That’s all it would take to go too far, past the point of no return.

    She taps one shoes against the other. Hesitates.

    And then she takes that step… and falls.

  9. “How many steps does it take until you stop being a complete waste of time? Is that number 12, or is that in the maintenance program?”

    Carl stared at her, wanting to fight back, but knowing that it was not his way anymore. “I deserve that. I accept your anger, and I know that you have every reason to be angry with me. I’m will never be perfect, but I’m getting better than I was. I’d like to see him.”

    Megan eyed him askance as she picked up toys in her son’s room. “No. You aren’t going to see him again. Not after what you did to us. What you did to him, and to me. You can’t step your way back into our lives.”

    He took a small step forward into his son’s room, lowering to his haunches as he picked up a few things that poked out from beneath the dresser – Starburst wrappers, baseball cards, a Lego that stood in wait of a bare-shod foot. “I’m not the man I used to be. I got my blue chip… A hundred ‘n ninety days sober. More than half a year that I haven’t seen him. What I did to you… I can’t fix that, but I can try. I can promise you, it’s behind me.”

    She threw down the toys and papers she’d picked up, transformers cascading away from her fury. “YOU’RE behind US. You are history – the bad part of history that we don’t talk about, that we just quietly thank God will never be repeated.” She advanced on him, towering over him as she only could when he was down.

    “I thank God for that too,” he began as she screamed. She grabbed the nearest thing at hand and hit him over the head with it. The inflatable hammer squeaked as it struck home.

    He eyed her as the rage melted. She started to laugh; she lowered against the wall as the laugh turned into tears. “Just get out.”

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