Flash Friday 23/09/2016: You’d Think Someone Would Have Arrested Ms. Mayberry By Now
Welcome to my fifth anniversary piece for #FlashFriday! This is a continuation of the Ms. Mayberry saga, where I add another story to the ongoing conflicts between Gareth and Ms. Mayberry each year. You can read the past issues here:
Prior reading isn’t essential to ‘get’ this story, but it is recommended!
Enjoy, and here’s to another year of Flash Friday.
Gareth was having a very good day.
Usually, on this day, he’d be worrying about what on Earth Ms. Mayberry was up to in the deathtrap she dared call a ‘store’. This year, however, he found the solution for his problems; simply don’t visit. Don’t check on how she’s doing. Don’t walk past her store. Don’t even think about her. Just stay at home and watch TV. It was already working wonders.
Gareth changed the channel on the television and sank into his chair. Yes, this was definitely the better way of spending a day.
The doorbell rang.
Gareth’s spike of panic subsided when he realised there was no way Ms. Mayberry knew where he lived. In fact, it was far more probable that it was the pizza delivery he had ordered a few minutes ago. He went to answer the door; but not before attaching the door chain, just in case.
Turns out, his suspicions were valid. Not only was it not the pizza delivery man, it was the very woman he didn’t want to see today. She peered through the gap with a crooked grin, eyes full of mischief.
“You didn’t come by my store this year,” Ms. Mayberry said, with a tone not too unlike a witch.
“Of course not,” Gareth said. “Last time I did, I was arrested in France on the grounds of suspected terrorism. How did you know I lived here?”
“From your Ms. Mayberry loyalty card details.”
“But I don’t have one.”
Ms. Mayberry pushed a card through the crack in the door. It simply featured her wearing dungarees and holding a spanner, shooting a confident look at the camera. ‘I experienced the brilliance of Ms. Mayberry’ was written on the side. “Now you do.”
“Brilliant,” Gareth lied, noting with mild worry that he was Member No. 000001. “But no matter how many repeat customer loyalty programs you put on me, I’m not going to the shop today. Sorry.”
“Really, now? That’s alright,” Ms. Mayberry said alongside a creeping grin. “You don’t have to go anywhere.”
Then Ms. Mayberry closed the door.
Did she just admit defeat? Gareth hoped so. After all, there’s no way she can rope him into demoing another awful invention if he never left home. Settling back into his chair, he tried not to think about what she had planned if he had left his house.
That’s when the tremors began.
The entire house began to quake, as if the foundations themselves were being rocked. For the years he had lived there, Gareth hadn’t feel the ground shake, even after his neighbours dropped a bookcase down the stairs. Was it an extremely rare earthquake?
Something within him felt the answer wasn’t so simple.
When Gareth looked out the window, he wasn’t sure what was going to find. What he did find, however, was Ms. Mayberry wearing goggles and a huge grin. Even more worrying, she was surrounded by what looked like several large speakers face-down on the floor. All of them were aimed in his direction.
He managed to leave the front door in record time.
“Did say you didn’t need to leave the house,” Ms. Mayberry said, with just a hint of malice. “But you can come watch if you want.”
“What the bloody hell are you doing?!”
“Testing my new invention, of course!”
“You’re testing your earthquake-making device on me?!”
“No! I’ve already tested the earthquake generator, I don’t need you for that! I’m testing the anti-earthquake generators!”
She pointed at Gareth’s house.
Following her finger, Gareth saw four strange brace-like devices clamped onto the front of his house. They looked like they were out of science fiction, with blinking red lights.
“Fantastic, aren’t they?” Ms. Mayberry said. “People won’t lose buildings to earthquakes no more.”
“But we don’t get earthquakes here!”
“All the more reason for you to prepare when they do come! Besides, it’s doing a good job, isn’t it? So there’s no need to worry.”
“Even if we did have them, they wouldn’t be this strong on the richter scale!”
“The what? Dunno about any ‘scale’. Just whacked all the generators to ’10’.”
“Great. Can you please call off the test?”
“Depends. How impressed are you?”
“Very impressed, Ms. Mayberry.”
Ms. Mayberry scratched her chin. “Alright then,” she said. “Suppose it has been long enough.”
Turning the dial on the machines off, the earthquake came to a halt. Gareth’s house was still standing, to his relief.
“So then,” Ms. Mayberry said, hands on her hips. “Now who’s a genius, hm? Your house went through all that, and look! It’s still standing, isn’t it? I think someone owes someone an apology, don’t you think?”
Ms. Mayberry beamed a big grin.
Then the house collapsed.
Gareth couldn’t do much else other than look at the flattened ruins of what was once his home. Well, that wasn’t entirely true; he also managed a horrified look at Ms. Mayberry as well.
“Ah,” Ms. Mayberry said, looking equally as horrified. “Turns out it doesn’t as much stop earthquakes as it does delay them. Well, that’s some scientific progress, at least. Please stop looking at me like that, it’s scary.”
“You destroyed my house!”
“I did, didn’t I. Well, you’ll be pleased to know that…you’ve saved enough loyalty points on your card for a new house. So you have that going for you. It’ll just…take some time to come through. You don’t mind hotels, do you?”
“Now listen here–” Gareth started. He was interrupted by a tap on his shoulder from behind.
“Sorry,” the pizza delivery man said, pointing to the ruins. “Is this 43 Station Drive?”
“Was,” Gareth spat, taking the pizza. “If you look hard enough in the ruins, you might find my wallet.”
The delivery man eyed the flattened home. “Let’s call this one free.”
“Thanks,” Gareth said. He took a particularly aggressive bite from his pizza, swatting away an encroaching Mayberry hand as he did. It looked like Ms. Mayberry was here to stay.