The Golden Parachute: A Serial Short in Two Flashes. Part One

What’s news?

– I did a guest posting at Stormi Johnson’s blog for her Frightfest 2011.  It’s a short (and hopefully entertaining) anecdote about how it’s scary sometimes just being me.  Hope you get a chance to check it out (click here).

Click here for Coffin Hop participants

– Also, I’ve been having a great time with the Coffin Hop Horror Web Tour this past week.  Not only tons of contests, but tons of just plain FREE STUFF as well.   And let me tell ya, there are some interesting people out there.

For more information and other bloggers participating in the Coffin Hop Horror Web Tour (October 24-31), click here.

Don’t forget my giveaway!  Three winners will be chosen to receive a free e-copy of my book The Imaginings.  In order to be eligible, the requirements are simple.

1- Earn 1 entry for commenting on any of my posts.  You can find the categories for my posts also in the right hand column.  I do tend to ramble, though, so perhaps you want to check the “Free Fiction by Paul.”  Since they are all flash pieces, I can guarantee they will be less than 1000 words.  Plus, this way you will know whether or not you want a free copy of something I wrote anyway.

Other posts that have been popular for comments (my wife says it’s because they’re lists) have been:

– My own Works Cited list: 10 books that have inspired me

– 10 movies that scared the bejeezus out of me

2- You can earn an additional entry by subscribing to my blog via email (in the right hand column).  I promise I won’t spam you, and at this point, I only post once a week, so your inbox won’t be that occupied by me. (Current subscribers are also eligible)

3- The winners will be randomly chosen at the end of the hops (midnight on October 31st) and posted the following Friday (November 4th).  So be sure to check back.


What else does the future hold?

Next Friday, I will posting Part II of The Golden Parachute: A Serial Short in Two Flashes.

But without further ado…

My original intention with this piece was to submit it for the Vamplit Friday Flash theme of “Costumes,” but I mixed up the dates and themes (“Costumes” was last week) and as I started writing it, I realized that it begged for more than just 1000 words.

Ergo, “A Serial Short in Two Flashes” was born.  Also, I’ve decided to submit this piece for an anthology, so I would appreciate your brutal honesty.  I will be doing my best to get this into two 1000 word flashes, but the anthology requirements are a minimum of 2500 words, so I would love to know any areas you would like to see fleshed out a little more. (And thanks to Vamplit for still publishing it this week)

And NOW without further ado..

The Golden Parachute: A Serial Short in Two Flashes

Part I

Word Count: 999

Jarom Myers stood shivering in Zuccotti Park while Mary searched out “a decent bathroom.”  While he waited, he cursed the power that a woman could have over a good man.

Not that he necessarily considered himself a good man, but he figured if they couldn’t resist the temptation, what chance did he have?

Just like every other pseudo-valiant act Jarom had carried out in his twenty-two years on this earth, it was because of a woman that Jarom now found himself temporarily camped out with hundreds of other protesters just off Wall Street.

The question Jarom contemplated as he finally walked Mary Delaney back to her tent was exactly how temporarily he would be there.  It was mid-October.  Halloween was three days off, and it was looking like New York was just going to skip Fall and head straight into winter.  He had even heard that rain was predicted tonight.  The nights under Jarom’s tarp were starting to get friggin’ cold.

It didn’t help that he was still sleeping alone.  The air wasn’t the only thing cold recently.

“This thing’s losing momentum,” he said to Mary as they wove through the maze of tarp tents and bundled bodies on the ground.  Mary didn’t respond.  “How long do you plan on staying?”

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Mary said.

“Well, whatever happens, I know my dad’ll kill me if I’m not back in school Winter Semester.”

“There’s always time for school, Jarom,” Mary said.  Her tone was condescending.  Good thing she was so pretty.  “What we’re doing is bigger than that.”

So far, Jarom thought, we haven’t done anything here. Not by protesting, and not in your tent.

“Yeah, yeah.  I know,” he said.  “Still, I may head back for a week or so.  Get a little sense of the normal, you know?”

“Oh, Jarom, just wait a little longer,” she said.  “Don’t you want to see Brent Taninger get taken out in cuffs?  Wouldn’t it be great to see just one of them go down?  Derek says he heard it could be any day.”

Oh great, Jarom thought. Derek again.

They had arrived at Mary’s tent.  She turned and gave him the look that got him to drive her here in the first place.  Well, that and her smokin’ hot body.  “And don’t you want to stick around with me?  Just a few more days.  And Halloween should be a lot of fun.”  She raised herself on her tip-toes and kissed him on the cheek.

“I’ve been sticking around for you,” Jarom said, “but you keep sending me away.”

“I’ve told you that this isn’t something that’s going to just happen overnight.”

“I thought you were talking about the protests.”

Mary smiled.  “Goodnight, Jarom.”

Jarom sighed over-dramatically. “Coffee in the morning?”

“Thanks, sweetie.  You know how I like it.”

I wish.

Mary climbed into her tent, and Jarom left to return to his.  Again.

A heavy mist drifted through the park, and the lights surrounding the park blurred into a haze, casting life into indistinct shadows and silhouettes. There was an unusual quiet in the air tonight, broken only by occasional fragments of conversation muffled behind tents and the steady hum of the city.

Halfway back, Jarom ran into Lester Mills stumbling through the maze holding a ratty blanket in one hand and cheap whiskey in the other.  Lester was one of the thousands who had been really screwed as a result of Brent Taninger’s corporate decisions.  He lost everything he had, including a wife and daughter apparently.

And he took every opportunity to remind Jarom of this fact.  “I hear she married some hotshot lawyer,” he slurred as he approached Jarom.  “I should kill the bastard.”

Jarom looked for an out.  “I think you need to find someplace to sleep it off, Lester.”

“Yeah, maybe,” he said and lolled his head around as if looking for where exactly this might be.  The motion made him stagger a little.  “Say, kid, you got a buck or two for a guy down on his luck?”

“Sorry, Lester,” Jarom said.  Lester staggered just enough to give Jarom the room he needed to slip past.  “I’m just a poor college student, you know?”

Jarom left Lester mumbling something about “the family dog.”

When he reached his strung up tarp, he stood for a moment and looked around, hoping for one last possibility, the slim chance of seeing some attractive young lady out looking for a little warmth and companionship.  But the colder temperatures and damp air had driven most everyone into sleeping positions for the night.

Jarom sighed and was about to climb under his tarp when movement from a spot of darkness under a tree maybe fifty yards off caught his attention.  He could barely make out the silhouette of someone who appeared to be wearing some sort of hooded robe and holding something at their side.

Some sort of walking staff? Jarom wondered. With something on top.

A gust of wind blew through the park, thinning the haze, and in that brief moment, Jarom saw a glint of light off metal at the top of the staff.

That’s no walking stickThat’s a freakin’ scythe. 

Then another wall of mist moved in, blurring the figure again.

Costumes hadn’t been unusual in this crowd, but there was something about this one that Jarom didn’t like.  Even when the mist had cleared, he hadn’t been able to see the face under the black hood.

“Little early for Halloween isn’t it?” he called out.  He meant it as a challenge, but kept his tone light enough to say he was just joking if things threatened to turn physical.

But the guy didn’t say anything.  He didn’t move.  Jarom didn’t have anything else to say, but he also held his position.  After another moment, the figure turned and walked away, fading into the darkness.

After waiting a few minutes to see if the guy would reappear, Jarom climbed under his tarp and went to sleep.

*** End of Part I ***

What do I want from you?

Again, I would hope for your honest feedback on this piece.  What parts do you think would benefit from a little more explanation (my wife is going to love this request… most flash fiction makes her crazy because of all the unanswered questions).

Also, if you get the opportunity, click on the Coffin or Halloween Hop images in the right column and check out some of the other participating blogs.

Finally, don’t forget to check back next week for Part II of The Golden Parachute: A Serial Short in Two Flashes

Please subscribe to this blog to receive posts via email or RSS feed (on the right hand column).  NO SPAM, I promise.

45 thoughts on “The Golden Parachute: A Serial Short in Two Flashes. Part One

  1. Very good. It makes me want to read more.
    The grim reaper? Could be (what was that guy’s name) Geco, Sarah Palin–oops better stop.

    I haven’t been following the protests–living in the UK is my excuse but I like that kind of setting it adds drama.

    With flash fiction, tell Mrs. Dail please–you just zero in on the basic story–the kernel of it. Everything else goes– descriptions are lessened but all conflict not only remains it is juiced up if anything.

    For example: two men, both armed in a confined space–each gunning for the other! That’s easily a flash story and an exciting one!
    who needs to know what they ate for breakfast or where they parked.
    We need to know why they hate each other so–!


    See? Just four words tell us all we need to know!

    As for your story and your question: I suppose with flash you could trim down some description but–!!! i wouldn’t say you should because I love your writing! and as it has a second part leave it in!

    I’m looking forward to the second part. I want to see what happens!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carole. And I’ll pass that along to my wife, although I don’t think it’ll change her opinion. For your example, I don’t think she wants to know what the character had for breakfast, but perhaps more details on why the one guy stole the other’s wife. And who are these guys anyway? And what other events led up to them finding themselves in this confining space?

      I think the thing with us writers is that we like the missing details because we can create them ourselves. And also as writers, we like to create these stories so much because of the details that we intentionally choose to leave out (and whereas some flash pieces are more complete vignettes, I’m definitely guilty of leaving out some of the good stuff on purpose).

      Oh well. I trust her pretty implicitly when it comes to most things literary. We just differ on this one. Variety is the spice, eh?

      Thanks again for your comments. I hope you enjoy the conclusion next week. And looking forward as always to reading what you put together this week.

  2. Hi Paul! I enjoyed this first piece and look forward to the next. I like how you’ve taken a current piece of news and woven it into a story. Is it truly the Grim Reaper? Or is it a serial killer?

    1. Hey Julie. Thanks so much for stopping by. Grim Reaper? Serial Killer? hmm. I hope you’ll enjoy finding out next week 🙂

  3. Halloween Hop

    I want to thank Jeremy Bates for the chance to participate in this blog hop.

    My Favorite monster movie – Hellraiser
    My Costume – Dragon (well the wings of a dragon and the rest is my sexy self)
    And I am now following this Blog (yay)

    I have read quite a few of the posts on this blog and I do believe I shall
    be reading more as I have found them interesting to say the least. I hope that my participation brings this blog more visitors and that those turn into more readers for this blog’s future. Thanks for being a participant and for those visiting this blog for the first time. Please comment, that is what we bloggers live for. 🙂

    ****Promoting my own Blog****

    Free Book Reviews is a blog that reviews indie books, interviews indie authors and generally talks about whatever amuses them in the literary world. If you are an author please feel free to submit your book for review and/or an author interview. If you are a reader feel free to check out any book listed on our blog. In any case please share this blog with as many people as you can!

    1. Hey fellow Halloween Hopper! Thanks for stopping by. You guys have a great blog. Quite a wide variety of reviews. Was glad to have found your site. Maybe I’ll look you guys up to review The Imaginings.

      Thanks for your kind words regarding my site. And good advice to the readers. Yes, we love/live for comments. And a bold choice for your favorite Monster Movie. Clive Barker knows how to push the limits.

      Happy Halloween!

  4. Halloween Hop!
    Hi! The scariest book I’ve ever read was “IT”. It reached deep into my subconsciousness and scared the heck out of me! For Halloween I’ll be dragging out my Elmo snuggy for my couch potato costume.


    1. “IT” was definitely a good one on many levels. Thanks for stopping by, Lynn. Happy hopping to you.

  5. Google let me out of blog purgatory this morning so I’m back hopping. I thought you did a great job setting up the story and the characters. It had a nice pace and I liked the juxtopostion of the weird against reality. I shall be back next week for the payoff.

    1. A.F., glad to hear you are free from purgatory. And thanks for the comments. Glad to hear it grabbed your attention enough to bring you back to see the conclusion. Hope you have a good weekend.

  6. Paul,
    the breakfast analogy wasn’t to be taken seriously with regard to writing!
    just me being humorous.
    All details cannot possibly be addressed if a writer’s intention is to write flash fiction. perhaps i misunderstood your desire for feedback.
    I thought you wanted to know about scaling down for flash.
    My mistake.

    1. Oh yes, I think we did have a misunderstanding somewhere there. I was just glad you read my piece this week. Actually, I’ll have two flash pieces for this story, so it will be 2000 words, but the anthology I’m submitting to is wanting a minimum of 2500, so I actually need to flesh it out more. That’s why I mentioned my wife, because I’m sure she’ll have some areas she’d like to know more about when all is said and done 🙂

      Thanks as always for your comments (and your humor).

  7. hey! how’d you put a happy face in there?!
    i’d send you one back if I could
    my pleasure, Paul. I do enjoy your writing.
    It’s good to have your wife’s pov, too!
    King’s wife always helps him.
    I wish she’d help me!
    Again, my pleasure!

  8. Coffin hopper here. So far I’m liking the story. It’s a great complement to the images that have been in the media from the protests. Good luck with fleshing it out – I find that adding word count is way harder than subtracting.

    1. Much thanks, Elizabeth. Glad you liked the story. I agree on the adding being harder most of the time… except when it comes to flash fiction. My first drafts are consistently over 1000 words. Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to heading over to your blog to get to know a fellow Coffin Hopper.

  9. Very nice build up and development of the characters. Very mysterious mood too! Good story and I can’t wait to see the other half…

    1. Thanks as always, Erik. Glad you are curious enough to come back next week. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I just saw you have a Flash piece up this week as well. Looking forward to reading it

  10. I want to see where it’s going.

    New follower: Trev @ Thought I’d say Hi!~

    1. Trev, much thanks for stopping by and following. Glad to hear that I’ve piqued your interest enough to see what happens next. Heading over to your blog (yay for another wordpresser! 🙂 ). Happy Halloween.

  11. Jennifer Smith 10/28/2011 — 6:07 pm

    I thought it was very good, can’t wait to read the rest of it.
    I subscribed, thanks for the chance to win. (at)

    1. Jennifer, thanks so much for stopping by and your kind words. And thank you for subscribing to my blog. I really appreciate it. However, I don’t see a link to yours. Hope you check back on this comment because I want to share the blogging love.

  12. Happy Halloween Hop, Paul – great guest post! I also very much love that fine line between improbable and impossible. And I too had a friend who thought “The Blair Witch Project” was true long after everyone else knew it wasn’t. Her rude awakening went like this:
    Nameless friend (shielded from mocking): “It’s totally true; they’re dead.”
    Belief-crushing other friend: “Except that they’re all on Letterman tonight.”

    1. Hey Shelley, thanks so much for stopping by. And it looks like you even went to Stormi’s blog for my guest post. Thank you, thank you. Your response is awesome. While I think it’s good we have expanded the internet to make it possible to debunk certain misleading urban legends floating around in emails, I think it’s sad that it has also made it impossible for anyone to ever again do what Blair Witch did marketing-wise.

  13. Halloween Hop! I love your blog tagline, “a Horror Writer’s Not Necessarily Horrific Blog.” I read a couple of posts, and I will come back soon to read more.

    Favorite scary movie is Pumpkinhead and favorite horror novel is The Haunting of Hill House.

    – aniko

    1. Aniko, thanks for stopping by (and for your kind words on my tagline. Had a moment of inspiration 🙂 )

      Happy Halloween Hop to you as well. Pumpkinhead, eh? Been a long time since I’ve seen that one, but I recall it had some pretty scary moments. Will have to revisit. And heading over to your blog as soon as I finish…

  14. Great story! I am looking forward to part 2. Great tension building.

    1. Much thanks. So happy to hear you’ll be coming back for the next part. I also really liked your flash piece this week for Vamplit. So anyone out there reading this, go to (or just directly to Lisa’s site) and check out the other pieces this week under the theme of “Haunted Attractions”

  15. Very intriguing. Only one thing really popped out at me while reading and that was a sentence that had the word park in it twice. As far as questions. My only question was where is the link to the next half of the story. Then, I read the part about waiting ’til next week. I won’t lie, I won’t be waiting patiently 😉

    1. Robert, thanks so much for your comments. And a sharp eye. I’ll have to find that sentence. I appreciate things like that and would hope after you have read part II (sorry about the wait, but the fun of a serial, no?), you would offer any additional things you notice. Again, I’m pretty thick skinned, so no need to hold back. Thanks for subscribing, as well. I really appreciate it.

  16. Hey, Paul. You know, we can overanalyze the heck out of stuff if we wanted to. Having read the piece only once I wouldn’t change a thing. I thought it was great. I hope life doesn’t interfere when the next part comes out. You’ve left me very curious to see what comes next.
    Happy Coffin Hopping!


    1. Thanks Jimmy (not James? Sorry if I got that wrong in the past, or are we on a more friendly basis now?). Anyway, much thanks for stopping by and your kind words. I hope you get a chance next Friday to stop by. I don’t believe you will be disappointed. Happy Coffin Hopping right back atcha!

  17. Grim Reaper or serial killer? I like it! Stopping by to say hello!

    1. Much thanks. You have echoed a few visitor’s guesses, I believe. I hope you’ll check back next Friday to find out. Happy hopping!

  18. Nice! I like it a lot – the somewhat questionable nature of the guy adds to whether I want to see him die or not. I’m itching to know what happens next.

    1. Much thanks, my friend. I appreciate you stopping by with your hectic schedule and hope you get the chance to revisit next weekend for the conclusion.

  19. You definitely left me wanting to read more! I really like your MC. He’s very realistic and I could instantly picture him. That’s always a plus. I’m looking forward to the rest.

    Happy Halloween!

    1. Much thanks for the kind words, Kelly. I appreciate it. I hope you’ll get the chance to stop by next week for the conclusion. Happy Halloween to you, too!

  20. Jason Darrick 10/30/2011 — 6:56 pm

    I enjoyed it quite a bit. I’m anxious to see if Jarom has trouble sleeping, both out of his frustration and now out of fear/curiosity. I’m following your posts now, and wish you a very Happy Halloween!

    1. Jason, much thanks for stopping by. And I really appreciate you subscribing to the blog as well. Glad you liked the story. Hope you get a chance to stop by next weekend for the conclusion. And Happy Halloween to you, as well.

  21. Love your blog!

    I’m here from the blog hop and thrilled to discover yours. My favorite scary book is IT (scared the crap out of me when I was a kid), movie that horrified me most was Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween, and I did not dress up this year, because I’m lame. I hope to cure this infliction next year.

    Happy Halloween!

    1. Amberr, thanks for stopping by. And I agree that “IT” was definitely a good one. I haven’t seen the remake of Halloween. While I’ve heard good things, it just feels a little blasphemous for one who holds the original in such high esteem. But I’ll put it on the list.

      The good thing about not doing a costume this year is that it gives you a whole extra year to really come up with something good next year 🙂

  22. Natalie Davis 11/01/2011 — 12:46 pm

    That was really good!!! I wouldn’t want to be one of them, living in a tent, protesting. I think I have a good idea who it might be but I will keep it to myself. :()) Looking forward to Part II.

    1. Thanks Natalie. No, I don’t think I’d want to be there either, especially with the recent weather. I would have to be an armchair supporter. Glad to hear you liked the story. You’ll have to check back Friday to see if you were right. Thanks again for stopping by.

  23. I love this phrase: “he cursed the power that a woman could have over a good man.” I think it is the strongest bit in the opening and it might be fun to play around with making it the first sentence. My only other suggestion is to lose the ‘apparently’ at the end of “He lost everything he had, including a wife and daughter apparently.” This whole sentence (minus apparently 🙂 ) might be better as a clause to another sentence or cut entirely. Otherwise, the piece has good flow, a surprising amount of humor (poor frustrated Jarom!), and enough elements to keep us reading.

    1. Thanks Aniko. I appreciate your comments. I’ll have to look over “apparently” and see how it flows. Glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you get a chance to read Part II.

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