Flash Fiction

Health Warning

‘Did you know that too much water can kill you?’ She asks.

‘Can’t say I did, but then I don’t think I’m exactly in the high risk group’ he finishes the final swig from his can which, now he comes to think of it, is the first drink he’s had all day.

‘You ready?’ She doesn’t wait for a response, pulling open the door to the stairwell and stubbing out the remains of her cigarette in the wall mounted ashtray. He nods and follows quietly behind.

Later, at post work drinks, as he swallows down the dregs of his sixth pint he reflects on how counterintuitive it seems for people to be worrying about excessive water consumption. As he stares down at the familiar image of the blackened lungs on his cigarette packet he wonders if anything these days comes without a health warning. 

Closing time and he’s walking home, his belly full of beverages which are making the earth’s rotation seem somehow quicker and more vivid. A quick pit stop and he is unzipping his fly, checking no one is nearby to witness his moment of immodesty. The bank is moving underfoot and his flailing arms are too little and too late to stop his course. For a few minutes the river is stirred by a violent thrashing, then stillness resumes. 

The KonMari Method

‘But does it spark joy?’ 

Her mother’s words – a mantra now. She tosses the black vest top on the ‘donate’ pile then, spotting the hole, grabs it and glances towards the bin bags in the corner. Bin day is Tuesday, she reminds herself, only two days to resist rescuing the top, worn boots and other non joy-sparking debris ‘just in case’. He stares up at her from the pile, bloodless skin pale, last moments of horror still imprinted on his glassy, dead eyes. Touching the gold band on her finger momentarily she muses that ‘joy’ is such a funny word. 


‘It means noisy ghost’ she mumbles. Officer Neil shifts in his seat, looking up from his notepad. 

‘So you’re saying this, er, noisy ghost, pushed your head into the desk, splitting your eye?’ 

She nods, silently. 

‘So you won’t be pressing charges, then?’ 

He sighs and closes the notepad, ‘You have a ghost problem, Mrs. Brown. Last week this poltergeist breaks your hand, this week he… sorry… it, smashes your eye.’

In October they find Roy Brown dead at the bottom of his staircase, bruised and bloodied. No sign of his wife. 

‘Strange’ Sergeant Smith muses.

Officer Neil nods, ‘Haunting.’