Flash Fiction Revisited: Relief

The day was cold. Camille pulled on her jacket and trudged outside for a cigarette. Damn these new laws that made standing by the dumpster behind the building the only acceptable place to smoke. And what a social pariah she had become. Almost everyone in the call center glared at her when she left, and turned their backs when she returned. Hypocrites! Most of them had done just what she was doing not that long ago.

Camille shivered as she lit up and took that first delicious draw. Ah, what a pleasure a good cigarette could be. So satisfying; so calming. Relief. The sky was so dark that the lights in the parking lot had come on automatically. A fierce wind blew from the north. Camille moved to the other side of the huge trash bin just to block it.

That’s when she saw it. A human foot covered in caked, brown blood.

Camille stood in silence, staring. Was this some sort of joke? Was that a Halloween prop? She edged closer. The foot was small, a woman’s, and the toenails were painted a bright red. There was a sheen of frost on the flesh, giving it the look of freezer-burned meat; the bone shone white against the severed tissues and muscles. Camille’s cigarette dropped from her lips when she screamed.

The police came, the foot was removed, Camille read a few days later that various parts of the young college student’s body had been found in the fields surrounding the town.

Never again did Camille venture out to the dumpster. Her need for a cigarette – forever associated with that horrid discovery – vanished in an instant. And she joined the ranks of her fellow reformed smokers who scowled when someone hurried out the door for some relief.

Her relief now came from staying safely indoors.

ferrer_r-smoking-lady

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