Monday, August 27, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Senator's Hamburger

Chuck Wendig, over at Terribleminds, has another Flash Fiction Challenge up.  This time, he used a random word generator to create a list of 8 words.  We had to pick four, and they had to be represented in our fiction.  To add to the fun, I numbered them 1 through 8, then used a random number generator to pick the words for me.  Below are the words from which we had to choose.  The underlined ones are the ones I used.  Word count: 999.

1 Cape
2 Joke
3 Senator
4 Hamburger
5 Laser
6 Gloves
7 Funeral
8 Motel

The Senator's Hamburger

Photo by:  chichacha of Flickr

The senator sent away his guards and sat down at his dining room table.  He gestured absently and soft classical music, an opera of some kind, pumped through speakers hidden in the ceiling.  Before him, a smorgasbord had been placed, each dish lovingly crafted by the finest chefs in the world.  His eyes scanned the glistening skins of the roasted duck, the plump carcasses of the turkey, the glazed, staring face of the pig, apple shoved so deep in it’s mouth it looked like a ball gag.

The senator sneered and raised his hand.  A servant appeared at his elbow in an instant.

“What is this shit?”

The servant stammered, searching the senator’s face for the right answer.  All he saw was hard lines and harder eyes, the face of someone who is used to getting what he wants.

“I’m sorry, sir, I do not know what it is you want from me.”

“I want my goddamned hamburger,” he said as he grabbed the servant by the lapels and shoved him away.  The man stumbled as he raced into the kitchen, choking back terrified sobs.

The senator crossed his arms, refused to eat until he had everything he wanted.  He sat and stared into the dark corner of the dimly lit room, listening to the soft opera as a soprano held on a sweet vibrato-laced note.

Someone came back from the kitchen.  This was a different servant than before.  He smiled and  set the covered tray in front of the senator, then raised the lid with a fancy flick of his hand as he did.  The hamburger shimmered with butter and grease.  Fluffy, green, crisp lettuce and a scarlet tomato stacked on top of two thick patties of beef separated only by a molten layer of cheese.  The senator felt his stomach rumble and waved the servant away.  He rubbed his hands together and reached for the burger, then noticed that the man still stood nearby.


The servant smiled.  “Nothing, sir.  I just wanted to make sure the burger was as perfect as possible.”

The senator grunted and bit into the thing, feeling sweet juices leak into his mouth and dribble down his chin.  It might have been the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted.  He smacked his lips and made an effort not to moan with pleasure.

“It’s okay,” he muttered.

“Very good, sir.”  The servant bowed, but didn’t leave.

The senator plunged his face into the burger for another bite, attempting to ignore the servant and his eerie stare.  Finally, he plopped the thing back on the tray and whirled around to face the grinning idiot.

“Will you get the fuck out of here?  If you keep bothering me, I’ll have you fired and escorted out of here so quickly you’ll think you stepped into a wormhole.”

The servant strolled over and picked up the senator’s empty wine glass.  He examined it’s shiny surface and absently rubbed away a spot with his gloves.

“Do you have any kids, Senator?”

The senator took a deep, steadying breath, and tried to dull the pounding beginning behind his forehead.

You don’t have to answer.  I already know you have two boys.  They say that girls are the more difficult ones, but I always found my boy to be much more challenging than my girl.  There’s all that pent up aggression, all that anger and resentment when they’re young. They’re not quite men yet, but they think like them.”

“If this is some kind of creepy joke, you picked the wrong target, you fuckin’ nutbag,” the senator said as he reached for his phone.

The fork that had once been in the plump meat of the turkey slid through his hand and into the wooden surface of the table before he could blink.  There was a moment of cognitive dissonance, a moment of staring in confusion at the metal protruding from his hand, then the pain came in great, drowning waves.  It flooded his insides and washed out high, hysterical screams.

“What the fuck!  What the fuck!  Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck!”

The servant gingerly touched the end of the handle, his white gloved hands dancing with the finesse of a stage magician.

“Senator, we’re having a lovely conversation.  There’s no need to invite interruptions.”

“Please let me go.  I’ll give you anything.  Money.  Cars.  Women.”

“Women.  Now there’s an interesting subject.  My wife was a fine specimen of the better sex.  Gorgeous, independent, funny, strong.  There were times, when she was debating some sexist asshole, or holding her own in a courtroom, when she seemed almost bulletproof.”

The senator’s eyes widened.  He felt a door that had been closed swing wide open, and the revelation on the other side was like a cold north wind that set him to shivering from head to toe.

“Look, pal, you’re wife--” he winced at his hand.  “--Your wife had no idea what she was getting into.  She stumbled onto some stuff that she couldn’t recover from.  It wasn’t personal.”

The servant began to laugh.  It was a light, hearty chuckle, but the senator could hear the bitterness lurking beneath.

“When a man’s wife and children are gunned down on the way home from school...I’m sure you can see, Senator, how a man may take that a bit...personally.”

The senator grabbed the salt shaker and threw it into the man’s face, then grabbed the fork and ripped it out his hand.  Pain flooded his brain and threatened to drown him as the edges of his vision darkened, but he shook it off and bolted for the door.  He was inches from the handle when something cracked him on the back of the head and he collapsed.  The man’s face filled the senator’s blurry vision.  He brushed the senator’s cheek with one gloved hand.

“Senator...these next few minutes may not be pleasant for you.’s not personal.”

The senator squeezed his eyes shut, but he still heard the man laugh at his little joke.


  1. "'s not personal."'s just business.

    I enjoyed that.

  2. Did not see that coming. Oh, and now I want a hamburger. With less fork, please.

    The only problem I had with the story - and it was a significant problem, though I still enjoyed the story very much (for some values of 'enjoyed' :) ) - was the fact that no other patrons seemed to be affected by this. A Senator suddenly starts screaming with a fork through his hand, heads are gon' turn, y'know?

    That aside, this was a well-written, well-paced piece. The Senator was set up as deserving . . . well, a fork through the hand at least. And the reinforcement of the Bad Things He Done was delivered in a great place to justify the violence at the end. We knew what we needed to know when we needed to know it, which is always great. Nice work!

    1. Thanks for your comment. I really enjoy getting criticism. I kind of hunger for it...also hamburgers. I actually just had one about 30 minutes ago. I'm not saying it's because I wrote this story, but...

      It's funny you mention the lack of people checking on them. I did mention that the scene is in his dining room, "at his dining room table," but, yeah, the wait staff should have come running. In my first draft, I actually distinctly remember writing an explanation about him sending them all home, but I guess I cut it out to get it under 1000 words. Whoops.

      Thanks for the compliments on my pacing and delivery. It's heartening to know that I pulled off doling out the information in an effective way. This comment, criticisms and all, made my day.


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