The City of Dreams- Fiction in a Flash Challenge #writingcommunity #amwriting #flashfiction


Fiction in a Flash Challenge

Suzanne Burke came up with this inspiring weekly challenge. Read more and join in here

The City of Dreams

The iconic Hollywood sign was more garish in the bright California sun than Beth expected. She’d dreamed of this moment for so long, it didn’t seem real.

She reached for her cheap Polaroid camera, hesitated, then shrugged and quickly snapped the photo before the tour bus chugged out of the view point. Her parents might not care, but her young sister, Sara, would. She’d begged to come with Beth, but their father wouldn’t hear of it.

“If your sister wants to run off and get herself into who-knows-what kind of trouble, that’s up to her. She’s old enough to do what she wants. But you ain’t, and I say you’re not going anywhere.”

Yep, that was dear old Dad. Cripes, would it be so hard for him to say something nice? Just once? For as long as she could remember, their family had scrambled to keep food on the table. Yet, now that Beth had been offered a small part in a feature film, her parents acted as though she was betraying them in some crazy way.

Her mother cried buckets when Beth packed up her things. “Something bad is going to happen, I just knows it. You should be staying home, getting married, and raising a family like your daddy and I did.”

She’d wrung her hands and sank wearily onto the old feather tick mattress. “I already lost your brother, what am I going to do without you?”

The guilt had set in then. Beth’s brother, Marcus, had died in a farming accident the year before and it had destroyed the family. Daddy never smiled anymore, and Momma… she was a shell of the person she’d been. It hurt Beth to see them like that. All the more reason to earn enough money to take some of the financial burden off their shoulders. Maybe then they could start to heal.

She opened the camera case and pulled out a stack of pictures she’d taken since starting this journey. Some were obvious tourist shots, like the one taken at sunset on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though it thrilled her to think she might be there one day herself. She held up her latest, and most precious photo- the Hollywood sign. The epitome of all her dreams was within reach.

All she had to do was…

A sudden scream from the front sent Beth’s heart scrambling up her throat. She grasped the back of the seat in front of her and tried to see past all the heads. Was that…? Holy smokes, it was. Some guy stood at the front of the bus waving a gun in the air. He yelled something to the driver, spittle flying from his mouth. The bus lurched like a drunk on a sidewalk as the brakes were applied, bringing them to a dust choking halt on the side of a gravel road.

And that’s when Beth realized they were in serious trouble.

While she’d been looking at her photos, they had apparently left the paved highway heading into the city and were now somewhere in the middle of nowhere with nothing but scrub brush for company. Well, that and the black eighteen wheeler sitting on the side of the road like a hulking shadow.

The screams grew in volume as the front passengers were herded off the bus. That is until the man with the gun shot the driver. Blood, and Lord knows what, sprayed the window by his head. Things got real quiet after that.

Three men stood outside, rifles resting on their shoulders, dark hats pulled over their eyes. Beth kept thinking, praying, it was all a mistake, or better yet, one of those action movies her brother had snuck out to the drive in to watch. But, inside she knew, this was no movie and she was no actress. She was a girl from Alabama who wanted to be home in her own bed waking from a nightmare with her mother’s comforting arms around her shoulders.

~~~

The detective frowned and squinted into the fading light. Three months and three separate disappearances. The traffickers were brazen. They didn’t even bother to cover their tracks this time; the clear treads of a semi were left in the dusty ditch line. Not that it would do them much good. There were thousands of trucks on the road every damn day. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.

He glanced down at the photo in his gloved hand. The Hollywood sign outlined in umber. Close to dusk then. So many came here in search of success. He could have told them Hollywood was the place dreams come to die.

37 thoughts on “The City of Dreams- Fiction in a Flash Challenge #writingcommunity #amwriting #flashfiction

  1. Fantastic take on the prompt, Jacquie. I love that last line: the place dreams come to die. Bravo 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Harmony. I came up with it just as I was falling asleep, then panicked when I couldn’t remember it right away the next morning, lol

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow! I agree with Harmony, the last line is fantastic.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Joan. I imagine many dreams are shattered in Hollywood

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Thanks Jacquie – I really enjoyed that.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. What a rollercoaster of a ride this one was, Jacquie. It had such a unique ending.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Hugh. Scary how fast your dreams can crash.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Oh, that’s so sad and heart wrenching, but SOOOO good!You wrung so many emotions from me in such a short powerful piece. And I positively love the last line. Bravo!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Mae. I think Hollywood is a surprise to a lot of aspiring actors.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Nuts. Didn’t see this coming. Poor Beth…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hopefully, she can find a way to escape, but for many that’s their reality.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. So stark, Jacquie. What a sad and scary story. A great use of the prompt and you really got my heart racing. Well done!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I guess every city has its dark side, but Hollywood seems to be one of extremes, doesn’t it?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I’m not a city girl, but I don’t think Hollywood would be my thing even if I was. I’m just not into all the pressure to be glamorous. 😀

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Glamorous for me is wearing shoes instead of my slippers, lol

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Lol. Over here it’s sweatpants instead of pajamas!

            Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow! That was a most unexpected twist, Jacquie! Talk about dreams destroyed all the way around. Fantastic take on the prompt!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Jan. I wasn’t sure where I was going with this picture, lol

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Oooh, Jacquie, this is such a tragic piece. Beautifully written.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Robbie. How’s the vacation going?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi Jacquie, we are back home now. It was only a short trip. It was a nice break, thanks for asking.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Great story, Jacquie with a chilling ending. I could see this as a book.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sophie @BewareOfTheReader September 28, 2020 — 1:13 pm

    Amazing piece Jacquie!!!! And that ending!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Wow! This a beautifully written walk on the dark side. Hollywood’s history is heartbreaking for so many. This is a great take on the prompt, Jacquie. I’ve just had the pleasure of featuring it on my blog. Thanks again for taking part. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Soooz. Yes, I don’t think it’s my kind of city 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Dang! So powerful, Jacquie. And so tragic. Nicely done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Staci. Good thing I’ve switched to writing suspense for my next book 📖 I’m in the right frame of mind for it!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hopes and dreams don’t always pan out, do they?

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    Some fantastic #FlashFiction by Jacquie Biggar

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Ooh, excellent, Jacquie, especially that last line.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I love this prompt Jacquie. Any commuter or person witnessing an event could meet this challenge! Big hugs and coffee inspirations to you!XOXO ☕️☕️☕️

    Like

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