Friday, 4 February 2011

Friday Flash - Maneater

The train pulls into the station and the doors slide open with a hiss. Just like they do every day, the bankers and businessmen crowd around the door, so the boarding passengers have to jostle for space between them. I don't understand why people block the doors, but I've lived in this city for forty seven years now and I still don't understand their ways.

The tall woman gets on last. She's got legs up to her armpits, and the kind of bouncy hair that models swish about in TV adverts. An Amazon clad in businesswear. She's not interested in the women on the train so she doesn't notice me looking at her. Hmph, as I figured. Her skirt suit wants to be Chanel but is probably either eBay or a bad rip-off, while those skyscraper heels are pure bargain bin dressed up as Laboutin. I try to catch her scent but I'm overpowered by Gaultier.

Some of the bankers check this woman out. She feigns nonchalance but I watch her give them the once over when they look away. I don't think she's too impressed with what she sees. She's boxed in by short balding men wearing business suits a size too small, their puffy fingers suffocated by cheap wedding bands. They're like oversized sacks of blood carrying briefcases. I get a mental image of a leech holding an iPhone and resist the urge to giggle.

The woman looks up at the overhead advertisements. It looks like she's scanning the row, but her eyes aren't reading the ads. No, she's checking out the left hands of the businessmen holding the rail. She homes in on the one guy not wearing a wedding ring. I'm not surprised - he's cute. Spiky brown hair flecked with grey, strong jaw, cheekbones you could ski down - I'm sure that's an Alexander McQueen suit. I can't see what he's reading but I'd swear it's a comic book. I'm convinced he's reading Transmetropolitan.

She smiles. The men see a face worthy of L'Oreal, but I see a cat that's spotted a mouse. A predator. I watch her attempts to squeeze through the crowd of married men to the singleton, but the bankers won't let her past. They want her where they can see her. The woman adjusts the fake Chanel, flashing the rings on her finger. Cubic zirconia. Classy. Cheap bait for expensive fish.

The train pulls into the next station. The doors open and Mr Cute looks up from his comic book. I was right, he does have puppy dog eyes. He slides the comic into his laptop bag and joins the crowd clamouring to get off. I can't help thinking their task would be made easier if the people on the platform let them off the train before they try and get on, but as I said, I still don't understand the mindset of these humans.

Ms Fake Laboutin looks alarmed, and shoves through the sweaty bankers toward the nearest doors. She steps down onto the platform just in time. As the train lurches out of the station, I catch sight of her through the window. She's stalking her prey toward the exit.

I turn my attention back to the bankers. The one beside me catches my eye and smiles in that leering fashion older men think is attractive. His jowls wobble and his watery eyes glisten among folds of red flesh. I can only imagine what he's thinking as he stares at what he thinks is a 23-year-old girl. I smile back all the same. I'm sure he'll taste delicious.

39 comments:

Chloé P. Kovac said...

Ahhh, one of those old and sagacious Watchers observing the methods of another of her kind, huh? A theme that is very dear to me, appearing to be something "vulnerable" in order to hide the predatory power inside.
It's the little observations that really make this tale.
This is the kind of story that only someone who is well acquainted with the exigencies of metropolitan public transport could come up with I think.

afullnessinbrevity said...

The strength in this lies in the descriptions. So vivid and accurate. Loved this piece.
Adam B @revhappiness

Carrie said...

Too cool. I'm a sucker for brand names in fiction. Delicious!

FARfetched said...

I wrote a short on a similar theme, but it's rather monstrous. This was better — or at least easier to swallow!

Laurita said...

There's more than one kind of maneater. Nicely done.

ibc4 said...

Reminded me of Bret Easton Ellis.
His writing sends a shiver down the spine, too.
Nice introduction of the numbers early on for the subtle pay-off.

Great writing, really drew me in.

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool story! Great misdirection of the intent of the story by watching the "regular" woman stalk her own prey.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I'm not a fan of pop culture in fiction, but this is an exception. I think all the brand name references add to the plot. For the Maneater everything is on display, including sausage-looking fingers and eyes encased in "folds" of meat.

The made my stomach turn; I like when a piece of writing hits me on the gut.

John Wiswell said...

I think people block the doors because they want to be the first off at their stop. The four or six seconds waiting in line to exit is too much for them. It's so enticing to boldly stand there, in everyone else's way, and be the first to depart. You'd think she'd appreciate it. They're like the lobsters at the front of the tank for her.

theothersideofdeanna said...

Super imagery in this Icy! I love the description: "...their puffy fingers suffocated by cheap wedding bands." So vivid, and accurate. Great work!

Gracie said...

Love everything about this, Icy. You are the mistress of great description. And that ending is just sheer awesome.

Great story!

Jim Bronyaur said...

YES... so cool. So freakin' cool.

laradunning said...

Oohh..like the calculating end and her observations. Nicely done.

Harry said...

Pretty cool, one maneater assessing another. Nice Icy!

Steve Green said...

Two hunters in the same cattle car? No problem, there is plenty of meat to go round. Good story Icy.

Mari said...

At first I thought it was a middle-aged lesbian observing people in the subway, but at the mention of "humans" near the end... Very nice! :)

M. Tate said...

I found myself pretty confused at all the name-brands, and I kept thinking why can't an e-bay dress be designer?

Anyways I really loved the voice you used. I think it's pretty easy to write with contempt, but hard to do it well. Icy, you've done it well.

Jason Coggins said...

She's bitten off more than she can chew if she thinks she can mess with a disciple of Spider Jerusalem!

~Tim said...

I'll never understand humans either. But I have to agree, they can be mighty tasty!

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Yay, I can post now. When I tried last night, just wouldn't work.

Killer piece. Love the end, and how the focus was all on the other woman.

Sam said...

This is wonderful! I read it yesterday but didn't have an opportunity to comment until now - it is still as vivid in my memory now as it was then, a definite sign of a great story.

I love the premise and the misdirection of the POV. Personally, I'd like to read a sequel to this one, or at least another story featuring your MC, which may give a clue to what sort of entity she is.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Chloe - I've actually watched a woman scope for wedding rings before. It's pathetic.

Adam - All observations made in the field, sah!

Carrie - I don't normally use them but I thought I'd give it a go!

FAR - Glad you liked it!

Laurita - Thanks

Ibc4 - Yeah, I think I might have accidentally channelled my inner Bateman. Worrying.

Eric - It's all in the sleight of hand.

Magaly - I normally don't like using brand names because I think it can "date" a piece but I wanted my maneater to be a bit of a snob!

John - Yes but they always want to be first off at their stop....at the end of the line. Personally, I move down inside the carriage so I can nab the first seat that becomes available, but then I have sense.

Deanna, Grace, Lara and Harry - Thank you!

Jim - Hadn't written anything "horror" in a while and I was getting itchy fingers.

Steve - Two very different kinds of hunter, yes!

Mari - Yeah, I had to drop that in to foreshadow the end!

Michael - An eBay dress CAN be designer, but generally the people who have the money to buy designer buy it from source. Of course, you can always get designer from other places but snobs don't care about things like that.

Jason - Haha, yes, she's going to get nowhere with him, is she?

Tim - I often think "I don't understand these humans" during rush hour.

Raven - Thank you, glad you enjoyed it (and could finally comment)

Sam - I haven't actually decided what she is!

Virginia Moffatt said...

Neat ending. I like the way you build up the detail of the Amazonian woman, and then twist it at the end. Very enjoyable.

ganymeder said...

Wonderful style. Tight writing with just enough details to let us figure things out for ourselves. Loved it!

PJ said...

Very nice, Icy - love the bait and switch. Terrific description throughout :-)

Tony Noland said...

I loved your layering of the two predators at work.

Stephen said...

It takes one to know one. I love the ending. So, how many maneaters are out there? They're around us everywhere, I'm guessing. We just don't know how to spot them.

Chuck Allen said...

A very nice tale! Or perhaps I should call it creepy. :)

I loved the tone of the MC and the way the story slowly turned back to her and what she was doing.

daniellelapaglia said...

Ooh, I really liked this one. And here I thought Ms. Fake Chanel was the only man-eater on board. Great job, Icy.

Monica Marier said...

A really nice twist on the concept of Maneater. You set up very clever blind that draws our attention to Mr. Cute and Ms. Fake Chanel. Beautifully crafted, love. <3

Jessica Rosen said...

Clever, leading us on to believe Ms. Single-man-stalker was the Maneater from the title. A mere line and a half at the end and the story turns on its head. Soon as it does, previous lines twist to produce layers of meaning. Thanks, I enjoyed it.

Take care,
Jess

Mike Robertson said...

Seems to me Ms Fake Laboutin and the narrator might enjoy a little sit down over blood red lattes. Maybe they'll reconnect at some point. Really like your descriptions in this one, and way the flow of the narrative echos and suggests the busy-ness of the crowd on the train.

brainhaze said...

Icy this is great - I especially love the line "I get a mental image of a leech holding an iPhone and resist the urge to giggle."
I've seen woman on the wedding ring hunt too, its very sad and dare I say desperate.

Maria A. Kelly said...

I love this, Icy. The descriptions are fabulous and I'm a sucker for alien shape-shifter stories! Nicely told!

Laura Eno said...

I loved all the imaginative little details you gave, coming from the mind of a snooty shape-shifter!

Jax said...

And I was watching the wrong maneater the whole time! This was so wonderfully descriptive, Icy. Well done.

Emma Newman said...

Oh yeah, that was good! Nice and tight, brilliant details picked out, I enjoyed it a lot.

G.P. Ching said...

Loved how perceptive she was about those around her and the decoy man hunter. The paranormal twist at the end was fabulous. I agree with Emma, nice and tight. Well done.

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

Icy, this is truly masterful. I love how you don't reveal much about the narrator, but everything she sees is described to pure perfection. I especially loved these lines, "She's boxed in by short balding men wearing business suits a size too small, their puffy fingers suffocated by cheap wedding bands. They're like oversized sacks of blood carrying briefcases."

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