Tuesday 17 April 2018

How Many Brands of Milk? (A Free Flash Fiction Story by Graham Downs)

So here I stand, staring at the shelf. Why are there so many different brands of milk?

I promised my wife I’d pick up a bottle. I can’t let her down. It’s my first time shopping alone, and I want to prove that I can do it.

Let’s see. I know the milk we use as a yellow label. Well, that narrows it down to about five bottles. What picture does it have on it? My mind’s gone blank.

Maybe I should give her a call.

No, I tell myself. You can do this.

Surely a WhatsApp couldn’t hurt?

Snap out of it, Joe! This really isn’t that difficult.

I reach out my hand and curl my fingers around a bottle that I think could be the right one. And then pull away just as quickly.

Somebody screams.

I pull myself out of my reverie and look around. A man with a balaclava rushes towards me, brandishing a rifle.

“On the ground! Everybody on the ground, now!” he insists, as he bounds closer to me. Along his path, people are collapsing, their foreheads pressed into the floor. Some are weeping, some are snivelling. Still others are stoically silent.

I fall to my knees, but keep my head held high. I want to see what he does.

When he reaches me, the butt of his rifle slams into my face. I hear a crunch, and sharp pain rushes into my sinus cavity. A red haze engulfs my vision, and I taste blood rushing into my mouth.

The man screams down at me. “What part of ‘On the ground’ do you not understand? Moron!”

“Okay, man. Take it easy. I don’t want any trouble.” I manage to slur the words out, but my nose is throbbing now. He kicks me in the ribs as I lie prone on the floor, and I flatten my stomach.

“Much better,” says the man.

A few moments of silence pass. I’m afraid to look, in case the man is still there. After some time, a plastic bottle of milk crashes down next to my face, popping the cap off and causing the contents to explode all over me.

“Damn!” says the man. “How many different brands of milk are there, anyway?”

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