Flash Fiction

A Brief Encounter with Madness

Joe Therasakdhi/Shutterstock.com

This post was originally published through Patreon on April 3, 2018.

Can you hear it?

That sound, just over there. A hum. No, a buzz. Like something vibrating. A machine. Yes, a machine. Please, sir, tell me you can hear it, too.

Are you sure? Yes. No, I understand. It’s just— Never mind. But are you sure— Yes, all right. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not crazy. Mad, perhaps, but not crazy.

There’s a difference, you know.

I suppose it was my fault. I chose to live here, though Earth was never my true home. Back home, I was a knight. No, a king. I could have had anything I wanted. Then I decided to become human. I took on flesh and blood, and agreed to be bound by the laws of the material universe.

But the universe and I don’t get along. I tried to play by the rules. But the cosmos is cruel, that I learned soon enough. And that sound, that awful sound—the galaxies as they hurtle through space, the planets as they orbit their stars—like rusty iron gears, squealing through time and space.

No, don’t walk away. Won’t you humor an old man? I know how I sound. I’m human, too, even if that hasn’t always been the case.

All right then, go. I’ll just be here, waiting for my time to run out.

Life, after all, doesn’t last forever, and neither does madness.

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Survivor

Melkor3D/Shutterstock.com

This post was originally published through Patreon on April 10, 2018.

I awaken, covered in aches and bruises, cuts and scratches. My right eye has swollen shut, black and blue like the rest of me. I put out a hand to steady myself and cringe. My arm is either sprained or broken; it will require time to heal.

Slowly, cautiously, I glance at the sky. The light is blinding, and I shield my eyes. Only when they finally adjust can I discern the horror all around me.

Men, women, and children, strewn about like debris—eyes glazed, limbs twisted—even as the surrounding buildings and streets remain untouched. Only the people are broken, transfigured into rotting, festering monuments dedicated to a species unlikely to survive the day.

I shed no tears, for my eyes have been wrung dry. Instead I walk, the pristine street rising up to kiss my bare feet, dodging bodies both whole and in pieces. The first street I pass is Valley View. Then Walker. Then Moody. All the while, I behold a city unchanged in the midst of an already deceased world.

Why am I alive? Did they leave me behind on purpose, or was I just a hapless accident? Are there other survivors like myself? Have we already been forgotten? Unanswerable questions swirl inside my head like thunder clouds.

Flash.

The sudden light is blinding, as if the sun has just gone nova.

Through slitted eyes, and with no emotion whatsoever, I discover they haven’t forgotten us after all.

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Laura

Inara Prusakova/Shutterstock.com

This post was originally published through Patreon on April 17, 2018.

Laura gazed into the dark midnight sky, where the moon beamed down on the world below. The luminous light was warm. It soaked into her skin, replenished her weary, weakened reserves. She could hold a lot of energy inside, but even one as ancient and powerful as herself had to recharge now and again.

Things began to stir within. Her face flushed, and she threw back her head in a state of sudden drunken revelry.

Once, the world had belonged to those like herself, creatures of strong elemental magic. They built it out of nothing but star-stuff, and when it was finished, they stayed behind to care for its future inhabitants. Now, they were so tightly bound to the Earth that they couldn’t leave even if they tried.

When Laura had taken her fill, she turned away from the sky and started to walk.

It seemed walking was all her kind could do these days. Long ago, they’d bonded with humans. They’d shown them how to live, how to care for the Earth as they themselves had done. And for a time, the humans had revered them. They’d worshiped them as gods and goddesses, sparking world religions that lived on even into the modern age. But humanity quickly devolved into brute savagery. Something in their evolutionary path had made them stubborn and aggressive, and they quickly turned onto a dark path.

There were still those who remembered the Old Ways, tiny patches of light in an otherwise dark and primitive world. They still prayed to their old gods, still reached out for help. But Laura and her kind had decided it was best not to interfere. Let the humans live or let them destroy themselves, what should they care? It was the world they loved, and if humanity wanted to destroy itself, then in its ashes, they would sow the seeds for a gentler, nobler race.

Perhaps in time, if the humans inclined themselves toward purer pursuits—if they laid down their weapons and returned to the ways Laura’s kind had taught them—they would reveal themselves once more.

But given the state of the modern world, Laura thought the odds were slim.

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