Here’s this week’s flash fiction. It’s on the dark side, probably influenced by the devastation in Japan right now.
The Endless Night
By Laura McHale Holland
Out of the toxic sludge, the swirl of limp parrots and cut glass, ripped maps and broken bricks, oil spurting and trees uprooted and car parts spinning, out of this, rose a man in silver: cap, trench coat, gloves, pants and boots dripping dead fish and turpentine. He came up from the muck one sodden step at a time, his serpentine tongue darting at flames flickering on boats upended as he chewed Mentos with his pointed teeth.
A blue-skinned family eyed him as they huddled against the only wall remaining on what was once a quaint seashore lane. A father, daughter and son in shredded clothes that hung in strips from their gaunt frames sat on wet concrete slabs and held their hands over a hissing fire. The mother rocked on a milk cart nearby and cooed to a dead baby wrapped in a blood-stained chunk of berber carpet. She did not look up as the man approached.
The man stopped at the fire, clasped his hands and stretched them out to crack his knuckles, but each crack was a lion’s roar, deafening the family. They covered their ears, except for the mother. She started singing “All Through the Night.” From beneath the concrete, a harpsichord accompanied her.
“It’s time,” the silver man said. “No!” the father cried. He stood up, raised his arms, lunged forward. The man pulled a pistol from his pocket and fired. From the barrel blasted thousands of radioactive gnats that swarmed the father, enveloping him in a writhing fog so thick he could not breathe. He fell, coughing, to the concrete. The silver man put the pistol back in his pocket and motioned, palms up, fingers curled, for the children to come to him. They obeyed. When they reached him, he turned and put one arm around each child. Together, the three walked into the sludge and slowly sank into the muck. The harpsichord stopped, but the mother kept singing all through the endless night.