Funny stories in under 500 words.

The Umbrella

The rain came fast and heavy, like buckets of water emptied onto a cardboard cutout city. I huddled beneath a battered awning outside a vacuum cleaner repair shop, waiting for it to let up. I had begun to worry I might be spending the night there. The weather report had distinctly said clear skies all day. Someone down at the TV station was going to have a lot of questions to answer. I watched a newspaper sailboat rush along the curbside torrent and vanish down a storm drain.

The evening had turned so dark I could scarcely make out the row of buildings across the street. If not for the familiar neon glow of a hotel vacancy sign I wouldn't be sure what I was looking at. Then, escaping from the grey miasma, came a gaunt shape making its way across the intersection. I couldn't figure out what it was at first—a giant flailing thing, like a monstrous drunken bird. Then as it drew closer I recognized that it was a man struggling violently with his umbrella. The umbrella was clearly interested in going in a different direction as its owner. But the man refused to give in. He grasped the shaft with both hands and tugged, gritting his teeth. He looked like a man unaccustomed to not getting his way.

The water in the street was up to his ankles. He stubbornly plodded through, causing wild splashes in all directions. His clothes were thoroughly soaked. It would have been a comical sight were the sky not such a menacing shade and had he not the disconcerted expression of one who has put his faith entirely in the weather report and is unable to process what possibly could have gone wrong. His frustration he channeled into grappling with his umbrella.

What happened next is, well, I got the impression the umbrella was fed up with this foolishness. Like a predator striking, it snapped down the edges of its brim, clasping the man's upper torso in its metal skeletal frame. The unfortunate man let out a screech. I stared in shock as the umbrella gobbled him right up until there was nothing left of him. Then, freed of its dead-weight, the umbrella was lifted up by the wind and soared into the sky and away from my view, leaving not a trace of the man behind save for a single black waterlogged shoe lying on its side, its laces worming out as if clinging to the wet earth.

Rob Hill occasionally posts rags and bones at , ,

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