Flash: Colour Bleeds Out/Only Birds by C.R. Dudley

Colour bleeds out, sounds wind down. Muffled, blind. Straight lines, thick and thin, washed in white and grey. It is winter here. Gentle snowflakes fall, though they strike as something sinister. Am I the only one conscious, the only one not a golem made of meat? Playing pieces for cruel gods. This pawn has slipped through the gaps, into the liminal. I call out, and I see my words, my breath, in emanating waves. Mirrored in the puddle surface a boot hovers above, paralysed by my downcast thoughts. Happily it would have splashed, a small pleasure on the way to work. But now all of that is tainted, and we see, the boot and I, what really lies beneath.

Whole buildings erased, replaced by sea. Wave after wave of attempted communication washes away the humanity stored in my flesh, strips me to my cartilage and cleans it thoroughly. Now I match the snow, barely seen at all and becoming flatter all the time. A whisper on a slate of white noise. No pavement below me, no sky above. Only birds, angry that they are suddenly no more than ink blots on a damaged canvas, furious that the screeches they thought they owned have been supplanted in an instant by silence. In the absence of direction, of anything else at all, they gather to peck at my bones, and I am glad.


C.R. Dudley is author of metaphysical science fiction collections Fragments of Perception and Mind in the Gap. She is also a visual artist and mind explorer, fascinated by the human condition and the inner worlds we create. She considers every project to be part of one continuous artwork. You can follow her blog here.

She is also owner and editor here at Orchid’s Lantern press.

Flash Showcase: Untitled Poster Poem by Rus Khomutoff

Poster Poem Image and Words Copyright Rus Khomutoff

My name is Rus Khomutoff and I am an experimental poet in Brooklyn, NY. I have published 3 collections of poetry: Immaculate Days (Alien Buddha Press), Radia (Void Front Press) and Color Poems (Orbis Tertius Press). My poetry has appeared in Triplov, X-Peri, Problematique, Grody mag, Proprose, Isacoustic and Ink Pantry.


Details on how to submit your own flash pieces for our Showcase can be found on the Submissions page.

Flash Showcase: Fritter by David Lawrie

1.

The story only ever goes one way.

2.

The fragment reads:

“…and I leave you now as you left me, with nothing but wretched words and bleeding ink. I do not understand your letters anymore, Hombre. They may loop from your pen with indubitable grace but I receive them with a senseless mediocrity. I will not accept the blame of you. I will always be behind you, Hombre. I am all over you. It is senseless imprisonment, and I, who have never wronged you, who saw nothing beyond the kindness in your heart, I am the one serving my sentence in your shadow.

I am watching your progress with the control that I have yearned for.

It is in my pain that I will haunt you so. And it is with lustful violence that I shall one day rise up, a malevolent presence over you. As my ink stains the purity of this parchment now, so shall I stain the fabric of your immortality. You will not be able to shake my ghost. You will not be able to claw the words of my testament from…”

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Flash Showcase: Earthbound Nebula by Ava Kelly

Image Credit: Ava Kelly


When it approached, it was slow. Passive enough to get close, unencumbered by human worry, graceful enough that its scarlet brilliance had exalted awe instead of fear.

I remember Pops, sitting on the back porch in that old squeaky chair, scratching his forehead, saying, “It’s gotta be something else. Aurora my ass, look at it.”

I remember Kiddo blinking at me, a couple of decades later, asking, “Why’s it so pretty, Daddy?” and, “Do you think we can touch it someday?”

I’d answer the same—nothing at all—because any words tasted like ash on my tongue. There had been one action to take, and one action only; even my twelve-year-old self knew. Study the earthbound nebula, comprehend it at all costs.

***

When it hugged the Earth, we didn’t notice, too preoccupied with measurements and suppositions and models. Too close to see. Kiddo used to tell me, when he got tall and broad-shouldered and voice-thick, that it governed my life. It had dragged me through school, through the long hours in the lab, through loss and pain, through stolen tenderness. I sigh, even now, at the memory of his angry frustration.

“We must understand,” I used to say. “Maybe it’s sentient. Maybe it also wants to understand.”

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Flash Showcase: The Memory Within by Aaron E. Lee

“What happened?” Yun asked the two scientists standing in front of her.

“The Memory War was almost fifty years ago now, I think.” Dr. Reyes raised her eyebrow, but Dr. O’Quin neither confirmed nor denied.

Instead, Dr. O’Quin said, “Genetic testing revealed the true form of memory in biology, and while the processing of those memories indeed took place in the brain, they were stored throughout the body in our DNA.” Yun nodded. It was a theory she had heard, but it seemed a confirmation of this would be pretty big news.

“Once we figured out how the body stored and processed this information, people started to get creative with that knowledge. Medication came out to improve memory, restore lost memories, and even to help people forget.” Dr. Reyes started unbuckling the clasps that held Yun down on the table.

Dr. O’Quin proceeded, “The medication was only half of the delivery system. After eight hours the patients had to be exposed to a low dosage of radiation, which triggered the Mnemonic Molecules. The medication was cheap to make. We didn’t go to war over the profits of the Memory industry. We went to war over the memories themselves.”

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Flash Showcase: Dissonance by Bernardo Villela

Did I awaken in a dream or dream I was awake?

I’d been drifting into twilit sleep, but did I make it? I saw nothing but blackness everywhere.

Not darkness, even when one wakes in a pitch black room there’s a sense—even if it’s subconscious—of a location, time or an innate feeling that things are there but unseen. When your pupil dilates, it comes to you.

This wasn’t blindness but absolute vacuity, I knew I could see, but there was nothing to see.

Light was derelict. Was it slowed, blocked, had it vanished?

Panic wasn’t within me, but an amalgam of ambiguous emotions: the feeling of awakening when you didn’t realize you fell asleep, the feeling of impending mini-apocalypse as a dreaded appointment neared, the no-man’s-land between déjà vu and jamais vu. As I couldn’t take the world as is nor could I imagine a new ideal, was this a new manifestation of Weltschmerz?

In my mind’s eye, which was unclouded, I saw bubble galaxies imbuing new realities. Was that something I sensed by some latent ESP I’d triggered or was that a dream, a daydream or a nightmare?

I felt weightless which was surreal. It was unearthly yet, as I took a step my movement wasn’t slowed and I touched back down onto solid, indiscernible ground. I was not aloft, nor paralyzed, but benumbed.

Seeing blindly, moving unfeeling; how could this be?

Looking down I saw my legs and hands. Another conundrum: There’s light hitting me and nothing else. What was the source of this light? Is it me?

Impossible. Yet, it seemed to be unless most basic tenets of physics no longer applied.

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Flash Showcase: Acid to the Bone by A.J. Van Belle

Kell wiped red paint from her hand onto a boor-tree-fiber towel and studied her creation. The crimson streaks glowed in the diffuse light from her bedroom window. All one color, an entire tube of alizarin used on one small paint board. The paint’s thickness determined the darkness or lightness. No recognizable figure graced the image, but the strokes suggested movement. An arm flung wide. A tapered back arched in dance. Transition from standing to leaping.

She frowned at her work. It wasn’t good enough.

She went to the window, wishing it were safe to go outside. Beyond the glass, rain dripped from curling fronds. Acidic slime, an oocyte that lived everywhere on this planet, dropped in sloppy masses from the branches of the treelike organisms in Kell’s neighborhood. She let her faint reflection fill her field of view and disappear as she pressed her nose to the cold glass. Her breath made a misty circle. Stories of going outside to play filled her head, tales she’d heard since infancy. All the classic stories came from Earth, the broken place that could only support a few thousand souls now, in cities that shielded their residents from the weather extremes wrought by global warming.

Here, on Kell’s home planet, children didn’t play outside. The oocytes would melt your dermis. The warnings echoed like a hiss, first as the voices of the adults around you and then from the mire of your own brain, never to be erased: The oocytes’ll burn your skin. They’ll eat you to the bone.

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Flash Showcase: The Past and the Future by Abhijatya Singh

Father is setting up the Time Fleeting Belt. After years of effort, he has finally figured out a medium for us to move through in time. He says that I will be able to see everything that has occurred or will occur like a spectator. He is telling me to not test its limit. I should just go back a few days and come back. He is pressing the button to activate the Belt.

I am moving back in time. I can see my father instructing me to not test the belt’s limit. I am going back. I see him celebrating after he realizes what he has made. I am floating through time. I see myself making out with my girlfriend for the first time. I see me, ten years old, trying to look through the door to see what my father does in his lab. I see my mother taking her last breath after giving birth to me. I should return now. I just need to turn the dial from past to present. But my curiosity is getting the better of me.

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Flash Showcase: Suckers by Gavin Jefferson

“If you can sign here, and here,” he said, pointing, “and here, here and here, you’re good to go.”

He perused the contract slowly, reading the words over and over in his mind. “I don’t know.”

“What are you worried about?”

“What if it doesn’t work?”

“Well ….” He shrugged his lips. “You’ll be dead.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” he sighed.

“If you’d rather not, then I understand. It’s experimental, but revolutionary technology. I admit, we haven’t figured out how to revive the dead yet, but we will.”

“Are you sure? I mean; how close are you to cracking it?”

“Close,” he nodded frantically, “very close.”

“Within weeks, years, what is it?”

The man smiled and pulled the contract from the table. “I can see that this is not for you,” he said, folding the paperwork.

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Flash Showcase: Best Friends Forever by Michelle Ann King

Suelita and I are friends. This is a fact. She tells me so, and I agree with her.

Suelita’s mother is called Ana. ‘That’s nice, dear,’ Ana says, when Suelita tells her we are friends.

‘And I got arrested for murder, and the house is on fire,’ Suelita continues.

Ana carries on tapping at her phone and says, ‘Mm-hmm. That’s nice, dear.’

I am also supposed to agree with Ana, but it is sometimes difficult. Those things, were they to have happened, would not be nice.

Suelita’s father is called Mr Jordan. ‘Don’t be silly,’ he says, when Suelita tells him we are friends. ‘It’s a robot, Sula. A machine. You can’t be friends with a machine.’

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