The following piece of flash fiction was originally written in 1998, and comes in at just under 300 words.
c. 1998, Keanan BrandReclining
Groggy, Tom rose from the chaise-lounge and surveyed the crowded room through bleary eyes. Light-headed, he somehow maintained his feet, crossing to where his wife wept, rocking back and forth in a straight-backed chair. He had never seen her so drunk.
“‘Sokay, Molly,” he mumbled, patting her shoulder. He missed, and caressed only air.
Uncle Nick shuffled past in cracked leather oxfords, dark suit, wide orange tie. Cousin Janis chatted in the corner. Her hat was grotesque, a huge floppy affair punctuated with feathers and smothered in yards of black tulle falling to the backs of her chubby knees.
He blinked at Mrs. Carson’s magenta dress. It jolted his foggy memory: Molly’s annual Halloween bash.
But in a church? He eyed the vaulted ceiling. Surely even Molly wouldn’t display such poor taste.
Yes, she would.
The guests didn’t seem to be enjoying the joke—nobody but Judge Mortimer, smiling broadly at everyone.
He’d get the old goat. The chaise-lounge was beside the judge—convenient for striking up a conversation—and Tom felt like lying down again, anyway. His head was still fuzzy. He lurched forward with wicked delight. This might be a lively party after all.
Janis touched a portrait just then. His portrait. It reclined atop the organ, surrounded by lilies.
“Poor Tom,” she said with a small smile. “Poor drunken fool. He always was good for a laugh.”
The gleaming mahogany lounge yawned, menacing. Something clutched him, compressing his chest, forcing him toward the wooden box. He clawed at air, at guests, at furniture. His ears roared.
The minister’s mournful face peered in at him. He tried to scream, but sound was killed by darkness as the satin-lined lid closed with a gentle thud.