Last Complaint is a horror short story that won me third place in WOW! Women on Writing‘s Summer Flash Fiction contest in 2009. In it, a grumpy old woman finds out that airing her grievances isn’t always the wisest plan. Here are the first few paragraphs:
She parks her station wagon under the “No Vacancy” sign. This is the first inn she’s passed since dinner at that horrible truck stop diner. Her bowl of clam chowder had been lukewarm and the waitress had the gall to try and make her pay for it. She doubts she’ll be treated any better at this place, but she can feel her eyelids drooping.
“Bellboy!” she yells into the dark lot. No one comes. She sighs, then pulls out her suitcase and wheels it towards the small front office that glows with a pale green fluorescence.
“Can I help you?” grunts the middle-aged man wearing a stained gray uniform at the desk. He flips the channel on an old television set that’s perched on the countertop behind him.
“I need a room,” she says. “How much?”
“We’re full up. No vacancy,” he gestures towards the sign outside then stares at her, his mouth hanging open.
“That’s ridiculous,” she insists. “I have a nephew who manages a Hyatt.” She waits for this to affect him but his expression does not change. She continues, unperturbed, “There are always extra rooms available, that’s what he told me. Even at the Hyatt.”
To continue reading, head here, and scroll down the page about halfway. You’ll find my picture and the rest of Last Complaint there. This picture was not taken with the story in mind, but it captures the mood of its latter half, stumbling through a dark hallway half asleep.