Flash Fiction: Shadows

This is more like the opening to a book that I have not written. Shrug!


We huddle inside a shadow, hoping it’ll engulf us before we are found. Everyone here travels inside the shadows now, a world all their own since the truth came out, the Great Revelation, the proof that all those nutjobs spouting about the end times might have been right, after all. Except we’re all going to hell, every last one of us. Even them. Even me.

We hold our breaths, simultaneously inhaling, our combined sound snuffed, the great enveloping arms of that darkness closing around us, shielding us. Like it’s always done, even before everyone knew how we were going to die.

I hear shouts at the end of the alley and we stiffen, more still than we’ve ever been in our lives, more still than the stillness that has plagued us all these years. I long to move. My muscles are itching, bitching about this holding pattern and I’m dying to listen. To break free of this stone moment and shake off the dust of a life lived in invisible captivity.

Alley_at_night,_Ljubljana,_Slovenia_(4813548900)We watch as men stop at the entrance to the alley, eyeball their weapons, nails hammered into the ends of broken two-by-fours, wrenches from rusted toolboxes, illegally obtained automatic weapons. I think about Dante next to me, how it must feel to see those weapons and see every stereotype we’ve ever faced staring at us. These men are animals. Savages. They are dying to tear us apart, limb from bloody limb. Ever since the news came. Ever since they learned they had nothing to lose. In my book, anyone who uses the end of the world as an excuse to start murdering people is someone who lost their soul a long time ago. I don’t think the meteor stole it from them.

I can see the whites of Dante’s eyes in the dark. I can see the fear glowing, a spark in the darkness, and I know he’s going to give us away, he’s going to show them exactly where we are, crouching here, here, glowing with sweaty fear like the animals they believe us to be. My mom told me pigs know what’s coming to them when they’re taken to the slaughterhouse because they’re too smart for their own good. So they get blindfolded, blindfolded so they won’t know they’re about to die horribly. The pigs, though, they scream anyway.

And I am about to. I can feel it rising up in my throat, can feel it clawing its way up, up, up, an involuntary spasm, I will give us away because I am so sick, so tired of running, of glowing.

Dante looks at me with his glowworm eyes and the scream dies.

The men look around, sniffing as if they can smell us, as if our fear gives off a scent, or maybe they truly believe we’re animals, that we can be found by the smell of matted fur, of urine and feces, as if we live in filth, glorying in our shit.

I am about to explode into a glorious confetti of broken windows, a thousand tiny shards of glass. I am about to pierce the night with the sound of my body breaking and maybe that’s a better way to go than being beaten to death with rusty nails. They look at our shadow, our bubble of protective darkness, and I feel like I’ve been struck by lightning, I am sand that has been electrified and turned into a strange, magnificent glass blob.

Then the men turn away, and as suddenly as everything almost collapsed, I am no longer made of glass, and Dante is no longer made of glowworms, and we bask in the silence of that alley, of that darkness, forgetting that the shadows have been oppressing us for centuries, and we are tired of living in them.


2 Responses to “Flash Fiction: Shadows”
  1. fibee5 says:

    That was gripping and so effortless to read.

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