“On the Amalfi Desert.” January 2023 Flash Fiction Draw Challenge by Jeff Baker. (1/16/23)

In the Amalfi Desert With Dead Folks

by Jeff Baker

AUTHOR’S NOTE; The draws for the January 2023 Flash Fiction Draw Challenge were; a Ghost Story, in a desert including a roll of film. I put on my Grimm’s Ghost Stories horror comic book hat and came up with this: —-jeff

Willie pulled his hat down to shield his head from the desert sun. He reached down and felt the pocket of his cargo pants. Still zipped up and he could feel the roll of developed film clunking around in the plastic tube.

He should have exposed the damn thing, but no! It had accidentally been developed.

He glanced ahead. Nothing but sand and blazing blue sky. Water in his thermos. He had to keep walking. There was an end to the desert, he knew. Someone would find the jeep that had broken down miles back. They would find him. That was good, right?

No! He had the damn film right in his pocket! The pictures which proved he was a murderer! He had to keep walking!

If he rescued himself, and destroyed the film, nobody would be able to tie him to Franco. Without the pictures, Franco’s death would be ruled a suicide. Nobody would know of their illicit partnership or the scams they pulled. And he would be able to withdraw the money from the account wherever he was. But he couldn’t find an ATM in the middle of the desert.

For what felt like the hundredth time he realized he should just toss the film into the desert; nobody would find it. It would be distorted, warped by the heat.

For what felt like the hundredth time he pulled the plastic tube out of his pocket and pulled the roll of film out of it. For what felt like the hundredth time he tossed the film and the tube towards the desert sand.

And for what seemed like the hundredth time the film zipped through the air back to the tube which hopped by itself back into Willie’s pocket.

“HahahahaaaaaHaaaaaaaa!” Came the sepulchral voice.

Willie looked up. He knew what would be there.

Drifting like a small cloud, sometimes blurry sometimes clear, Franco’s face was there above him. It laughed and taunted Willie.

“No, Willie boy! No, old partner,” it said. “You won’t get rid of the film that easily. The pictures are too good. And they’ll find the pictures on you when they catch up to you or to…your remains! Haaahahahaaaaaa!”

The ghost bounced ahead of him in the air, like a bouncing ball in an old cartoon over song lyrics.

“Are you headed the right way? Is this it? Or this? Or this? Hahaaaaa! How much water do you have left? Enough to wander to the edge of this desert? How big is this desert anyway? What’s it like to die in a desert anyway? HaaaaHaaaaaahaHaHaaaaa!”

Willie trudged on, the laughter filling his ears, the film jostling in his pocket, the heat rising up around him in waves.

His feet getting heavier, Heavier. With. Every. Step.

—end—

(Apologies to Joe R. Lansdale for the title!—-jeff)

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