Fizzle Out

“My turn, huh?” Fillip asked with a smile. His doppelganger, Fillbert,  took a seat in front of him and nodded. He already interviewed the others and Fillip was the last before they could get started. “Okay,” Fillip nodded. “Ask away.”

“Parents?” Fillbert asked. It was the fifth time he’d asked one of them about their parents today. Each time he asked it grew shorter until it was just one word. Fillip nodded. He heard the full question the first time and heard everyone else’s answers. He knew what information Fillbert was looking for.

“Both, Mark and Eileen. They stayed together until death, mom went first. Dad two months later, four years ago.” Fillbert nodded.

“Same,” Fillbert pointed at a brown-haired woman with glasses. She was seated at a nearby table playing a handheld videogame. “All of us except Fillis; she was orphaned in elementary. Speaking of, how about education?” Fillbert asked.

“Trade school, electrician,” Fillip smiled. “No career though. Won the lottery soon as I graduated.” Fillbert chuckled and nodded. All five of the other Fills knew about Fillips’ wealth.

“Yeah, the rest of us weren’t that lucky,” he pointed at the oldest version of them. An older man with touches of grey on his brown sideburns sat across from Fillis reading a book. “Filliam’s a master electrician.” Then he turned and pointed at another pair of them at a different table. “Fillroy and Filler are both Journeymen.”

“Can I ask a question?” Fillip asked. Fillbert nodded.

“Of course! You’re a big part of the team,” he replied.

“Why are you asking us individually? It seems like this is all stuff that would come out naturally just by hanging out together.” Fillbert nodded.

“It would. But because of what we’re trying, I want to cut out mental chatter as much as possible. You know, I don’t need all five of you going, ‘oh yeah me too!’ when learning details about each other,” Fillbert shrugged. “So I made a list to get them out of the way. Anyway, how’s your love life?”

“Crushes. No one special.”

“Oh good, that’s easy. I think that gets most of the big stuff out of the way. Can you think of anything important to add?”

“I’m gay,” he said.

“Hah! Oh man, I didn’t even think about that, thanks for bringing it up.” Fillbert stood from the booth. “Fillip’s gay. Anyone else?” he shouted. Fillis, Filler and a handful of random diners raised their hands. “Thanks, guys,” he said then sat back down. “Awesome, I think the team’s gonna be great.”

Point Man

Flash Fiction Challenge! – Location: Paradise | Object: Headphones.

“Not what I expected,” Serena took in the sights around her and her best friend, Llina. The pair of young women stood on the tallest tower of a sprawling, neon cityscape at night. Llina shrugged.

“There’s an Earth out there named, ‘Pineapple’,” she giggled. “I don’t think the name ‘Paradise’ means anything.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Serena looked over the edge to the street below. Hundreds of zombies marched through the streets. They flowed around the building like a river of corpses. “Still, I’m pretty disappointed. Hey, wasn’t zombies on the list?” She looked up at her friend.

“Oh yeah!” Llina reached into the back pocket of her jeans and pulled out a wrinkled and worn sheet of paper. “Yep. Picture with zombies,” she read from the list. “We’ll get it before we leave.”

“Nice! That’s already a second point for the scavenger hunt through Fizzle. We should stick with him,” Serena said.

“Oh good, here he comes,” Llina said. She directed Serena’s attention to a black swarm coalescing into a dark featureless mannequin. In an instant, the mannequin became their new friend Fizzle: a pale, lean young man with silver and gold guns holstered at each hip. Llina slid her grey backpack down then began to dig through it.

“Hey guys,” Fizzle smiled. “How’d ya like Paradise?” Llina finished her search and pulled a set of dark purple headphones out of her bag and handed them to Fizzle.

“It’s another point for us!” Serena said.

“Nice! And, thanks for the delivery,” Fizzle smiled and slipped the headphones on.

“No problem,” she waved as Serena walked to the edge of the building and jumped off. “We’re gonna go get pictures.” Llina walked to the edge then followed her friend down.

Game Plan

“Gah!” Fillip jumped in surprise the moment the light came on. He expected the room to be empty and the unexpected occupant startled him. When he recognized his own face sitting on the bed he calmed down. “You’re early,” Fillip said. He walked to the computer desk and sat down facing the bed. “Which one are you?”

“Oh sorry!” the young man, 18 if he was the same age as Fillip, hopped off the bed and jammed his hand into his cargo shorts. He pulled out a small stack of multi-colored name-tags and stuck a green one to his black t-shirt. It showed the name, ‘Fillbert’.  

“Thanks for hosting, Fillip,” Fillbert gave Fillip the nametags, then shook his hand.”

“You’re the one with the idea,” Fillip shrugged. “I just have the space.” He stuck a purple nametage to his chest with his name on it. Fillbert nodded.

“Speaking of space, can I see the area you’ve got in mind?” He asked. Fillip nodded and cocked his head out the door.

“C’mon.” He led Fillbert out of the bedroom and through a door across from his. He flipped on the light to reveal a giant unfinished basement that made Fillbert wonder about the size of the house. Six freshly dug, human- sized pits formed a circle in the center of the room. “There’s still some loose ends to tie up, but they should all be ready in a couple of days.”

“Very nice!” Fillbert walked down the wooden steps with care. He reached the floor and walked to the center point. He admired all the empty space. “Man, what do you do on your Earth? It took me years to save for a mudroom, I’d never be able to afford six slots.” Fillip smiled.

“I picked some lucky numbers once,” he chuckled.

“HAH!” Fillbert pointed at Fillip with an accusing tone. “I knew one of me won the lottery,” he shrugged. “At least you’re sharing it.” A vertical black hole appeared in the center of the empty basement. A young dark-haired woman stepped out of the hole followed by a small group of people. A young red-haired woman, a brown-haired woman that looked like Fillip with glasses, then three other Fillips.

“Here you go guys,” the dark-haired woman said. “Do you want us to hang out, or are you going to be a while?” The four Fillips looked at the other two. Fillip approached them and handed over the stack of name-tags.

“I’m welcome here as long as I want,” he smiled at them. The woman stuck a blue tag to her grey hoodie. ‘Fillis’

“I’m not in a hurry to get back to anything,” she said.

“I can loaf anywhere,” an older version said. His orange nametag said “Filliam.”

“It sounds like we’re all gonna stay a while,” Fillroy, identified by his yellow name-tag, suggested.

“Yep,” Filler said as he placed a pink nametag on his shirt. The dark-haired woman shrugged.

“Okay, then I guess I”ll see you guys around. Give me a Whisper if you need a ride.” She gestured her fingers at the air and opened another black portal. Her red-haired friend tapped her on the shoulder and whispered something in her ear. “OH!” she turned away from the portal.

“Do you guys mind if we get selfies with you?” The various Fills gave each other confused looks.

“Who?” Fillbert asked.

“Why?” Fillip added.

“All of you!” she said. “You’re not famous, sorry.” she shrugged. “Serena…,” she pointed at the red-haired woman. “and I are on a scavenger hunt. One of the items is a selfie with five or more of the same Zero.

“Bonus points for multiple genders!” Serena added.

“Whoa, a multiverse scavenger hunt?” Fillroy asked. “That sounds awesome!”

“It is!” the woman replied. “But it’s rough. The selfie would be our first find.”

“You need to get out there more,” Fillis suggested. “You know, we’re lucky there’s a ton of Zeroes that would kill for a multi-verse taxi service.” She smiled at the pair of women. “We can spread the word if you’re willing to transport people. The more people you meet the more leads you’ll get for your list.”

“Yeah!” they both readily agreed.

“If you’re not in a hurry, stick around. Pizza’s on the way,” he shrugged. “We’ll do some brainstorming. We’ve got a lot to discuss anyway,” Fillip offered. Serena looked at the pits warily.

“What are you doing?” she asked and subtly shifted closer to her friend. Fillip caught the worry in her question and smiled.

“Those are mud pits to connect to the AlterNet, nothing to worry about.”

“What’s an AlterNet?” the dark-haired woman asked.

“WHAT?!” A chorus of Fills let her know how astonished they were.

“You’ve never heard of the AlterNet?” Filliam asked. Both women shook their heads.

“Well you have to stay now. You’ve gotta try it out,” Fillip smiled. “You’re gonna love it.”