High, all the Time, by Epimetheus

Winning entry for the Literary Maneuvers Fiction Challenge “Final Girl”, July 2019

High, all the Time 

Let the base kick

“Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug!” the chant surged over the base. Elsa obliged, chucking back one shot after another, eyes closed to the chanting crowd enveloping her. She finished all five to a crescendo, arms raised in triumph. Looking in from the edges of the troupe, backlit in neon strobes, a goddess among her worshippers.

“Mate, who is that girl?”

“The first girl on the dance floor and the last girl to leave the club. Give her some of your pills and she’s yours for the night.”

Another night, another dream

Elsa’s beau for the night was gorgeous. But he had nothing on her, especially when she took to the dance floor. Grace, energy, emotion. She was the embodiment of rhythm. She never did understand just how good she looked.

“Girl, you dance like a demon,” he said as the music chilled, giving him the chance to sway with her. She was on him instantly. Briefly taken aback by her ferocity, his tongue soon explored hers as she ran passionate fingers through his hair. She broke off abruptly, leaving him gulping; a fish in air. She tasted of fire and ash.

“Don’t go anywhere, Silvio.” She said, sauntering off in the direction of the toilets with her girls. Hypnotised by her swinging arse, he didn’t even notice she had his name completely wrong.

White lines, running through my mind

The red sofas in the members area blended with Elsa’s red dress, but there was no chance of missing the princess of the party. She snorted a white line from his finger, her pupils bursting wide as she cackled into the smoke-filled air.

She smeared some of the powder over her bust, mingling with her sweat, intending for him to take a hit. But one of her girls beat him to it, licking it off then raising her tongue to meet Elsa’s. Dusty bitterness mingled with cherry lip balm and tequila. 

Wake me up before you go go

Morning broke upon Elsa: blissful moments when she remembered nothing. Disentangling from bedsheets she regarded the unfamiliar bedroom. Fragments returned: partying to golden oldies, a handsome stranger, a vomit strewn taxi ride, carnal pleasures. But enough of remembering, time to get busy forgetting. The bed and flat, were empty; not morning at all but well into the day.

The house was too quiet, a void waiting to be filled, remedied by flicking on the radio. Jitterbug. She found vitamin tablets and painkillers and foraged a breakfast from a surprisingly well-stocked kitchen, and left without looking back.

Jump up, jump up and get down

The dance floor was a mosh of flesh and sweat and tempo. Where others jumped, Elsa soared. Where others stepped to the beat, Elsa was the beat. She didn’t exist when the rhythm took her. Some say she danced like she was possessed. But the opposite was true. Her mind left her, taking with it her demons, leaving only movement. Only here was she truly free. 

Her eyes were closed against the strobe lights, creating a hypnogogic aurora on the inside of her eyelids. Oblivious to those around her, the music blew her away.

Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well

The base was muffled in the toilets; the wracking sobs were not. Elsa pitifully clawed at the graffiti scribbled cubicle door. It felt like her grief had grown into a tumor which was trying to force itself through her throat. But it was too big. Instead it pushed out torrents of tears. Her head felt like it might explode. Every time the memory caught up with her it felt so raw, like it had just happened yesterday. 

She missed him. So much it was physical. She had to forget. If only for a while.

You’re gone and I gotta stay high, all the time, to keep you off my mind…

About the author:

Epimetheus is in the final year of a PhD, trying to teach computers to diagnose cancer using a laser, and discovering just how stubborn AI can be. Before moving into science, he was a nurse for 12 years, primarily working in emergency departments, finding out just how silly humans can be. He has also started to teach Tai Chi having practiced various Chinese martial arts for decades, the perfect remedy to both. These various interests converge in his storytelling, where technology meets the human condition and a little arse is kicked.

Other works by Epimetheus published to Flashes Through a hole, darkly



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Created in 2014, Flashes is a privately owned literary website. We publish short stories, non-fiction, flash fiction and poetry. Our goal is to give talented writers a platform to showcase their creativity, with an emphasis on original voice, innovative style and challenging plots.
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