How’s that for alliteration?
We’re collecting quite a crowd of competent, yea, careful and colorful composers of prose. (Yeah, OK, I’ll stop.)
The entries continue to blow me away. I hope to be a writer of the caliber of this group. Congratulations to all of you.
But there can be only five finalists, and one winner.
Here they are, in no particular order. Poll’s on the right, so enjoy these fantastic flash fiction (giggle) pieces and then vote in the poll on the right of the page.
Good luck everyone!
Here are their fantastic entries:
When my I lost the vision in my right eye last week, I went out shopping for a replacement.
Mottleby’s is the only place in town that cares about quality, so I didn’t even bother going to Jerry’s Eye Emporium or Butler’s Best. The piece of junk my brother-in-law got from Jerry’s last year was a joke. He still can’t see properly on his left, but it makes our paintball games a lot more fun.
I wandered the brightly lit store in wonder, caressing the glass counters with the diamond-ringed irises and garnet colored pupils. No way I could afford one of these, especially with the latest salary cut at the station.
I settled on a lilac-colored beauty with a plum center. Simple with a touch of flair. Perfect.
The saleswoman helped pluck my old eyes out. The sensation of removing eyes always makes me queasy. I sit down for a moment with my head between my legs.
After the nausea wanes, I take a stroll down the foggy streets even though it makes my new eyes water. No doubt they will wear out in another year or two with all the hazardous chemicals in the air, but for now, the newness of sight is refreshing.
I wake to him slipping into my bed. He settles between my body and the wall, drawing me back into him. From his arms around me, his leg hooking over mine, I can feel him relax. He is never relaxed unless he is with me.
We say hello. I hear the tired smile in his voice. I feel his hands shake as they cover mine. It has been a long six months. We are tired, weak, broken. But today was the end. Our replacements have taken over. They are not as good as we are, but we have done our part. Now we have the peace of our bodies falling asleep side by side.
There is pain in my back, my bones, my blood. As I trace my fingers over his arm, I feel the rough slices of scalpels. I know that if I were to peel back the sheets and spoil him as I have always wanted to, I would see where they inserted the teeth and fed him the chemicals. They would look like angry tattoos beneath his skin. It probably hurts him to hold me this close. I want to cry for him, but I am too tired to allow myself tears.
The most I can manage is, “Are you in pain?”
He laughs a little, or maybe sobs. The sound is confused, just like everything else. Through the drapes, I see a yellow-green sky. Past the sound of his breath at my neck, I hear the drums of victory.
Victory. I guess you can call it that.
I close my eyes, but what I see on my lids throws me into a tiny panic. I will never stop seeing the dark balconies above me, myself in the bright white center, the pain of teeth, the touch of the children’s hands. On the colder nights, I nestled into their corpses for warmth. At points, there was applause.
I try to stop my whimper, but it comes out anyway.
His arms tighten around me. He kisses my cheek and says there is nothing to be afraid of anymore. He is here.
I know it was worse for him. Many nights, clutching a lifeless, chubby hand for comfort, I heard him scream.
Last week, they welcomed us home with cameras and smiles. They say they will give us medals. We will never have to work another day for the rest of our lives.
The sky erupts into purple and white. Fireworks. Everyone is celebrating. They will use bits of bodies to decorate buildings. They will paint walls with the blood of the dead.
I am not sure if I like the idea of the rest of my life.
He has become very quiet. His eyes shine with blue light from outside. Yellow light. Green light. I cannot remember what color his eyes really are. I cannot remember anything but teeth and poison.
He tells me to hush. I wonder why and realize I have begun to cry. He wipes my cheeks and kisses me. It does not take long for the kiss to deepen. I have always wanted this, and so has he. But it has never been a good idea. Too risky.
It is better than I imagined, although our bodies are so frail that I wonder if this will actually kill me.
After, I turn away and become a child in a womb. I close my eyes and see people turning into monsters. I am a white light, burning, buzzing, peeling away the flesh of little freckled girls, little blond boys. Even moving with him in a bed of colored stars isn’t enough to make them go away.
I do not like the idea of the rest of my life.
He knows it. I see us in the corner mirror. We do not look human, especially in the twirling lights. We are already dead. I am therefore not afraid when I see the glint in his hands and feel the blade chill my belly. He puts his mouth to my ear. His voice shakes as he tells me what I had already guessed.
We have not won. It is a ruse to put everyone at ease.
They are sending us back. We are the best. We have always been the best.
“I won’t let them,” he says. He kisses me. His face is wet. “It won’t hurt.”
He is right. It does not hurt.
There were no windows in the flower room, and no flowers – not living ones, anyway. Even my bouquet soon wilted to a mess of shrivelled brown.
The others were still, the only noise the rattle of my sickening lungs. It was a long time before I heard him return. There was a woman, too, who played the harpsichord in the room below us, trilling her French and Italian songs with the shrill voice of a girl. This one was young.
We had all played that harpsichord, once – if only she knew how many had smoothed those ivory keys while he watched, smoking those cigars-beyond-price.
I could not have imagined how long a year and a day would feel. It time, purely time, with none of its mechanical or celestial markers. Each day was suggested only by the distant sounds of the life I had once led, replaying. First the lovemaking, then the arguments. All planned so meticulously. Our husband was a cruel husband.
I do not know if I was still living when she came to the flower room. Perhaps I was a remanant, waiting for the tying of the knot which would seal my death and begin hers. I knew only that I could not speak or move, and I noticed for the first time the silence of my lungs. He had dressed her in her wedding dress, pressed that old bouquet into her hands. Roses, this time, blood red. Mine were once lilies.
“Bluebeard, my Bluebeard,” she pleaded. I wanted to tell her it was no use; her sarcophagus was provided, her resting place sealed – her replacement, no doubt, already selected. The were many empty slabs left in the flower room.
My name is Peter Wesley. Yes, THAT Peter Wesley.
Maybe you read about me in Scientific American or Time. I was their ‘Man of the Year’ a few years back. Or maybe you read about me in Fortune.
Anyway, you might be wondering why the world’s first multi-trillionaire is writing his last journal entry on a smartphone while standing over a fire under the Brooklyn bridge trying to keep warm.
Well, there are a lot of people trying to kill me. It’s only a matter of time before one of them finds me. If you have been living under a rock for the past decade, I’m the guy who invented MolTran–Molecular Transportation System ten years ago. I wanted to call it a ‘”Transporter” but the good folks at Paramount objected.
I wanted to change the world.
You know what they say. Be careful of what you wish for.
See, the MolTran worked. Perfectly. Basically in one night I put the big shipping companies out of business. Moltran was a perfect and cheap replacement.
FedEx, UPS, DHL were gone within a year.
The car companies and trucking companies were next. The Teamsters and UAW weren’t happy about that.
Next came the cheap labor. I sold the MolTran for 10k a pop. So pretty much every third-world government bought them for their people. Commuters using my system could transport themselves from Mexico to New York and back again. The high salaries disappeared.
The richer individuals purchased a MolTran for their homes. My invention ended up everywhere. Seventy-five million units were sold in 18 months. Even the criminally-minded could get one on the cheap. The banks and secret government facilities were pissed about that. Basically a man from Mumbai could, with a little bit of research, transport himself into a bank in Chicago, clean it out and be back in time for lunch. Or one of those UFO nuts could materialize in the middle of area 51 and hunt for UFOs.
It kind of went crazy for a while.
An Israeli Special Forces unit materialized into the Iranian presidential palace and assassinated the nut job. North Korea transported a nuke right into the Texas home of a former president…and an hour later the entire 101 Airborne transported themselves into the Presidential Palace in Pyongyang and killed everyone. Hell, I even heard a rumor that the Russians transported an opposition leader from Uzbekistan into the middle of the Indian Ocean.
And I won’t even tell you what Conan O’Brien did to the LA Lakers cheerleaders.
I made a lot of money. I’ve spent a lot on security. I thought things were ok until someone transported a bomb onto my private 787 Dreamliner. Fortunately for me I wasn’t on it at the time. Not so fortunate were my wife and kids.
I’ve been running scared ever since.
I wanted to change the world. I never counted on the fact that the human race wasn’t ready for the change. So I’m going to try to disappear…go someplace where I hope no one will ever get to me. And I’ll watch the whole system come down on itself from a distance.
So. To anyone reading this I say good luck. And fuck you for taking something that I made and turning it into a servant of your petty desires. Signed, Peter Wesley.
I sent the entry to my attorney for immediate publication and felt a sense of relief. It was done. I was done. I could try and disappear to my well-prepared secret bunker while laughing as the people of the world destroyed themselves.
That’s when I felt the familiar vertigo that accompanies the MolTran effect…oh God…they found me…
He stared as she turned and walked out of his life forever.
“We want different things,” she’d said. “We’re not the same people we once were.”
Disagreeing, he remained silent. He didn’t want her to see him as desperate, longing. He wanted her to turn back and run into his arms, saying she was crazy for even considering leaving. But she didn’t.
His heart ached for her, thudding in the hollow of his chest. Thump. Thump. Each beat matching her retreating steps, like the clicking of her heels on the parquet floor.
They’d been high school sweethearts, falling in love so young, with a world of possibility stretched before them.
Then various stressors crowded their contentment, urging them farther apart. Children, Work, Travel, In-laws.
“Go find someone else. Someone you can be happy with.” Her words echoed in his mind and he smirked. As if he could ever find a suitable replacement with only a tenth of his heart still in his body.
The other ninety percent just walked out the door.