I wrote this at a flash fiction contest last Saturday. They gave us a theme (Vegas--the city of second chances [and we couldn't use gaming]) and then gave us 90 minutes to write a story of no more than 500 words. So, here's my entry...
FINALLY FREE by Alba Arango
They said Los Angeles was the place I would blend in, that no-one would notice I was different. They lied.
I stepped out of the cab to what would’ve been my new home, a sort of run-down apartment in East Los Angeles. It was perfect.
“Yo, buddy,” a voice interrupted my thoughts. “Spare a buck?”
A scruffy looking man held his hand out in anticipation.
I frowned, confused. “A buck?” Why would this man believe I had a large animal on my person? “I’m afraid I do not have a buck.”
The man whipped out a gun. “Then I guess I’ll take your wallet instead.”
He raised his weapon and pulled the trigger.
I looked down at the hole in my chest then up at him for explanation.
His eyes grew big, his face paled. “You some kinda freak?” He backed up, then left rather quickly.
Reaching into my chest, I pulled out the bullet and sighed. I had only been on this planet for twenty minutes and already I had drawn attention to myself.
“Excuse me.” A dark man with equally dark eyes approached me. “You’re not from around here, are you?”
I shook my head.
He nodded. “You’re looking for the city of second chances?”
He heaved a deep sigh which almost shook the ground under my feet. “They gave you the wrong coordinates. It’s Vegas you want, not LA.”
“Vegas?” I repeated.
“It’s the city for people like us, people who are...not from around here.” He put me in a cab and told the driver exactly where to take me.
I arrived in Vegas a few hours later. As I stood, marveling at the giant canopy covering Fremont Street, I heard people speaking probably twenty different languages. Two in particular caught my attention. They were walking arm in arm, speaking Mercurian. Openly. Right there in front of the humans.
Walking up to them, I tapped one on the shoulder and mumbled a quick greeting in the language native to Mercury. They stared wide-eyed for a moment then laughed, welcoming me to my new life.
“How long since you escaped the dungeons?” The female one asked as she sipped a drink from a place called Starbucks.
“Only a few days,” I said, amazed at finding some of my own kind.
The male clapped me on the shoulder. “You’re going to love it here. You’re free.”
I looked uneasy. “But the humans, don’t they know? Can’t they tell?”
“Not here,” the girl said smiling. She pointed to the masses of people on the street. “Half these people are from other planets. Like us, they moved here to be free, to be able to do anything they want. Here, no-one cares if you’re different, they expect it.”
I looked around. Could it be true? Could Vegas truly be the city of second chances? Just then, a bus drove past bearing the motto “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” A tear rolled down my cheek. I was finally free.