Flash Fiction

Why?

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This post was originally published through Patreon on September 19, 2018.

Not an ending, thought Samantha as she lay on the sidewalk, bleeding into the concrete. Not an ending, but another beginning.

She spasmed.

Choked.

Died.

Alone, suspended in the dark, the part of her that was still aware wondered if she might be granted a release—if she might, after countless lives, succumb at last to the Great Void and the mysteries that lay beyond. Then came the all too familiar tug, as if she were a yo-yo at the end of its string that was about to be pulled back.

No, please. I don’t want to go.

But the choice was not hers to make, and it seemed the universe had other plans. Her essence—or her soul, according to what her parents had taught her in her previous life—plummeted through an endless expanse of empty space, where it condensed, coalesced around a nascent core of matter and energy that would, in time, become her next body.

Her awareness, now tethered to an embryo that was not yet capable of rational thought, began to dim. But before the dark enveloped her completely, a single thought bubbled out, a desperate plea cast into the infinite and beyond, addressed to whoever or whatever might be there to listen.

“Why?”

And then, surprisingly, an answer came, one she didn’t expect.

“Because there is more I have to teach you.”

Then, like a guttering flame, the last vestiges of conscious thought disappeared, and Samantha passed into a dreamless sleep where she waited to be born again.

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Freezing Time

Evdokimov Maxim/Shutterstock.com

This post was originally published through Patreon on August 29, 2018.

Time is a vortex. It sucks you in the moment you’re born, and once it has hold of you, it never lets go. No matter how hard you struggle, no matter how hard you try to pull free, its grip remains, until finally it shoves you over the threshold of life into death.

A curse, or so Rita once believed. Now she wishes she’d let nature take its course. Oh, how she pines for death’s embrace. But death cannot be hers, now or ever again.

It was foolish for her to believe she could tamper with something as fundamental as time. But she was a powerful witch from a long line of witches, and she thought herself singularly capable of harnessing and channeling nature’s deepest mystery despite her mother’s repeated warnings.

“You’re gifted,” the woman said once when Rita was just a child. “Perhaps too gifted for your own good.”

Then, when Rita was seven, her mother died. Cancer consumed her from the inside out, leaving Rita shell-shocked and beholden to a desperate fear of death and the irreversibility of time. It haunted her every waking hour, until at last she resolved to do the forbidden, the unthinkable, the impossible.

Rita would freeze time.

Time, according to her tutors and textbooks, was immutable, no more moveable than a mountain or an ocean. Indeed, despite her many attempts to skirt its primordial limitations, she was never able to achieve her goal.

Then she had an idea. Perhaps time couldn’t be manipulated, but what about herself? What if she could untether herself from its ever-moving tide? Like a ship that’s dropped anchor, it would ebb and flow around her, while she herself remained stationary.

It was a revolutionary concept, and she was surprised no one had thought of it before. She took to locking herself in her room, to pondering her trailblazing theory in secret. Always she thought of her mother, of her terrible agony right to the bitter end. She pondered the physics, the math, the magic, until finally, piece by piece, she’d constructed a working model, an elaborate balance of celestial energies that she believed would allow her to accomplish the impossible.

The night before her transformation—the night before she destroyed herself more thoroughly than time and death ever could have—she lay awake in her moonlit room, dreaming of the cosmos and the mysteries she believed she was about to master. She would be a god, she thought, unfettered by the constraints of the universe. She would be immortal, free to roam the stars and all that lay between.

As it happened, she was right about the immortality. But as she soon discovered, it would have been far better had she not achieved it.

She’s alone now, suspended on the razor’s edge of a moment that will never come to pass. With no time to carry her forward, she is frozen like stone, her soul forever on the verge of a silent scream.

How wonderful it would have been to die like her mother. But for now and ever after, death is a luxury that will remain forever out of reach.

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Hello?

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This post was originally published through Patreon on August 22, 2018.

Alex woke to his cell phone ringing and answered just before it went to voicemail.

“Hello?”

“It’s been a long time.”

“Who’s this?”

The voice sounded familiar, but Alex couldn’t place it.

“You know who I am. You haven’t forgotten.”

“Kevin?”

Laughter was his only reply.

“Susie?”

Again, that laugh, hollow and dry.

A memory flashed before Alex’s mind like a shard of bright stained glass, a missive from the distant past: a pair of sunken eyes and a toadstool smile. Alex couldn’t remember who it was, but he was certain that face matched the voice on the other end of this call.

“Hello?”

A moment later, a name materialized to go along with the face. Not a normal name, not in the least, but just as familiar as that awful poisonous smile.

“Melthane.”

“You see?” said the voice at last. “I told you you hadn’t forgotten.”

Now, memories were piling one on top of the other. Flashes of another life. Flashes of another world.

“What do you want?”

“A marvelous place, Earth. We had all the magic, but this science and technology—this miraculous ability to build, to organize, to brute-force one’s ideas into existence—that’s its own special kind of magic, wouldn’t you say? Arguably more powerful than the sort you and I once dabbled in.”

It was all coming back to him now. His home, along with the reason he’d left it. But oh, God, he didn’t want to remember. The darkness. The destruction. Until Melthane reminded him of who he was, he’d managed to forget. Now, the peace of ignorance was gone, and it was never coming back.

“What do you want?” Alex said again, locking the bedpost beside him in a white-knuckled grip.

Melthane maintained silence a moment longer, but Alex could sense his deepening smile as if it had made a sound.

“My dear Alex, I only wanted you to remember.”

Click.

“Hello? Menthane, are you there?”

But Alex already knew the line was dead.

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