Saturday, May 5, 2012

MFF Entry #1: Say Goodbye by Tara Fox Hall

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challenge! Every 600 word or less story begins with this sentence: 
 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.

And kickin' it off is this thriller of a flash from author Tara Fox Hall. I'll be posting stories regularly as they come in, so do stay tuned and be generous with comments. Read on!


            I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son...
            Forcing a smile, I reminded myself that this wasn’t goodbye, really. Brandon was just going camping overnight in Chenango Park with his father, Kirk. Kirk has promised to have Brandon call tonight to check in. I should be thinking about how to pamper myself for the first time in five years instead of sitting here worrying…
            Glancing up into the rearview mirror, my eyes widened in horror at the sight of Brandon’s bag peeking out from behind a trashcan. I threw open my car door, scrambled out, and ran for the bag. Ripping down the zipper revealed not just the clothes I packed so lovingly, but also my cell phone I’d loaned Brandon.
            I’d put the bag in Kirk’s SUV myself. Someone had taken it out, deliberately.
            Kirk’s black Forrester had left a good ten minutes ago.
            I darted for my car, already dialing 911.       
            I parked, then shut the phone off, furious. The police had said that Kirk didn’t have so much as a parking ticket, and told me to go home and relax. Not likely. Relations with Kirk had been strained since our divorce. He’d fought hard for custody of Brandon. After losing, he’d bitterly sworn revenge. Later, Kirk had apologized, saying he’d overreacted. He’d been the model dad these past few months, which had lead to this camping trip.
            God…what if they hadn’t come here at all?
            I gripped the steering wheel with white fingers and tried to remain calm. Not only did I need to find them, I needed some help. The best place for that was the park office, only a few feet away. I pasted a smile on my face, then got out, walking quickly to the building.
            A woman manned the desk, texting busily.
            “Hi,” I said. “I hope you can help me. My husband and son are here, and they forgot his bag. Can you point me to their campsite?”
            “We don’t require names for camping, Ma’am—”
            I resisted the urge to shake her. “Can you give me any help at all?”
            “I can.” A park ranger stepped out of the back room, flashing me a friendly smile. “A father and son just came in and asked for our best campsite—”
            I squinted at the tiny nametag. “Thanks, Art. Can you guide me there?”
            He nodded. “Sure can.”
            Ten minutes later, we pulled up at a secluded campsite with a small campfire and—to my absolute relief—Brandon.
            I jumped out of the car, and grabbed him in a hug, blinking back tears. “Brandon.”
            He hugged me back. “I’m glad you’re here. Dad’s been saying some strange stuff—”
            Kirk came out of the trees, his expression murderous. “What the hell are you doing here?”
            “What are you doing with those berries, sir?” Art asked. “Those are poisonous.”
            Kirk colored, dropping them. “Nothing, just giving Brandon a nature lesson—”
            “That’s not what you said!” Brandon accused. “You said we was gonna go to Heaven and be together forever.”
            Kirk charged. “You’re not taking him away!”
            Brandon screamed and I bolted for the car. A grunt of pain made me stop and turn, just in time to see Kirk crumple.
            Art shook his hand, grimacing. “Haven’t done that since high school.” He took his cell phone out and dialed 911. Kirk laid in last years leaves for the duration of the call, out cold.  
            I hugged Brandon. “Say goodbye to your daddy, Honey. You won’t be seeing him again for a long time.”

Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She also coauthored the essay “The Allure of the Serial Killer,” published in Serial Killers - Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). Her first full-length action-adventure novel, Lash, published in April 2012. Her vampire series begins in June 2012, with the 1st novel Promise Me. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.

Tara's Facebook Page:
For info on my recently published work, Lash, click here:


  1. Thank you for posting my story, Mysti :) The nightshade berry pic is an awesome touch. Just what I was thinking when I wrote the story :)

    1. You're welcome! I love finding pics to illustrate!

  2. Nice one Tara. Gave me a frisson! Very nice!

    1. I learned a new word! :)

      A sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill: "a frisson of excitement".

      Am very glad I could give you a frisson, Mrs. T! And thank you for expanding my vocabulary :)

  3. Great story, Tara! Loved the suspense! Now, I just have to write mine... after I come up with a good idea, of course. ;)

    1. Hi Rebecca! :) Very glad you liked the it was the only idea I had! :) thanks for commenting.

  4. scarey. I liked it lots!

  5. Good story Tara! start out slow, but the suspense builds steadily and rapidly. At the end, I wasn't sure if someone had been shot or what had happened. I was greatly relieved to read that Kirk was going to get what he deserved..or at least that's what we are led to assume. Great story.

    1. Good to meet you, Nurse Artist :) Glad you liked the story. Art punched Kirk, hurting his hand in the process and knocking the vengeful dad out cold.

  6. Wow! Was that ever powerful! Mama Bear, I salute you! And hooray for the hero ranger! Now I'm inspired to try my own, definitely…

    Love and hugs,

  7. I enjoyed your story, Tara. Poison berries, a unique idea, and a slow, painful death I'd think.


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