Flash Fiction: The Man of Spoons

It was three days before Curtis met the man of spoons, or as Curtis (and billions of other people) called it—today. This particular today was distinguished from all preceding ‘todays’ because it was not yet yesterday. It was, however, precisely three days, twelve hours and nineteen minutes before the encounter with the man of spoons. It never would have occurred to Curtis to count the minutes or days or hours.

Today. Yesterday. Tomorrow. Empty vocalization. Hollow sounds. A slight dropping of the lower jaw. Thrusting the lips forward as the tongue strikes the roof of the mouth just behind the upper teeth. Then the tongue retreats slightly, the lips pull back and the jaw lowers even further. The vibration of vocal chords. A noise. A sound. A word. But Curtis hears only ticks and tocks.

When Curtis was born, his father owned thirteen clocks.

When Curtis was six, his father owned ninety-seven clocks.

When Curtis was twelve, the total had reached one hundred and forty-seven clocks of varying shapes and sizes, including nine grandfather clocks and, in the second floor hallway one loud and distinctive cuckoo clock that incurred irreparable and unexplained damage at some point between Curtis’ thirteenth and fourteenth birthdays.

Young Curtis’ aural landscape consisted of ticks and tocks, of whirling gears, and of swinging pendulums. He knew the resonance and pitch of each and every clock and knew every tick from every tock for no clock kept the same time. He was bombarded from all sides, including, because his bedroom was on the second floor, from above and below:

Surounded by Ticks

On one occasion—twelve years nine months and eighteen days before the encounter with the spoon man—Curtis spent an entire afternoon manually resetting each clock so that every tick and tock would coincide with every other tick and tock:

TICK TOCK TICK TOCK TICK TOCK

The collector of clocks—Curtis’ father—had fallen asleep. A curling mass of flesh and bone and sinew in a plush red leather chair—a shade of red found only in plush leather chairs. The collector jolted awake by the sudden noise found his own personal ticker had ceased to tick.

Curtis met the spoon man at the theater. This man had two particular talents. First—he could (for a fee) stuff small furry animals down his trousers and perform various feats of perambulatory entertainment. Second—he could play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony using only a pair of spoons. He listened to the story of Curtis’ childhood, and smiled when Curtis complemented his performance. Three days four hours and fifteen minutes later, the man of spoons was on an outbound train. He never met Curtis again.

His mother had collected spoons.

Advertisements

Flash Fiction: The People vs. the Zombie Rights Foundation

It all started going wrong, when they let zombies work at the coroner’s office.

Everything went smoothly at first. Most funeral homes were already zombie-owned; becoming coroners wasn’t all that different. Then the zombies started munching on the corpses.

The Chief Examiner put up signs all over the morgue: Do Not Eat the Bodies! The State Legislature passed the Pike Act, after the infamous Dr. Pike was acquitted on nine counts of murder because zombies had eaten all the evidence. The Supreme Court upheld the law in the People vs. the Zombie Rights Foundation.

But the corpse eating continued unabated.

Flash Fiction Friday: The Orphanage

No one goes to the orphanage any more, not for years and years. Surrounded by mountains and fields, hours away from any city or town, it had always been a lonely place, even long ago, when all the beds were filled with the lost and the forgotten. There was only one road up to its shuttered gates, and that often flooded, when the rains came. The gate itself, had gone to rust, and the creeping ivy and weeds had long since begun to claim it as their own. There is a sign out on the grass in large friendly letters—For Sale. No one ever sees it. No one ever asks about it.

Inside, the entrance with its swooping staircase had once been grand. The walls had been varnished wood paneling and fashionable green wallpaper illuminated by lamplight, a parody of warmth and home. The grand staircase lies in shambles. The bannisters have cracked; the stairs themselves have splintered. The once fashionable wallpaper has faded and peeled away. Part of the roof caved in several years ago, during a particularly terrible storm, and a tree has begun to grow in the old dinning hall, a twisted, misshapen tree with grasping malignant roots.

The children’s rooms are all empty. A few bed frames remain, lonely skeletons stripped to the bone. In a long forgotten corner lies a children’s doll. Its eyes are missing and its head is cracked. Here and there the walls are strewn with writings, the detritus of forgotten lives. Some marked the dates and years, like prisoners counting down their sentence. Others recorded old joys and teasings—Jess and Tom sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. All gone now. Empty, silent, abandoned. Not even a birds nest, or a colony of mice to call it home. Except, sometimes from within those ruined walls comes the sound of a piano, its keys out of tune, and the sound of children laughing. But no one ever hears. No one ever listens.

No one goes to the orphanage any more, not for many, many years.

Flash Fiction Friday: Shipwrecked

 

The Shipwreck_edited-1

The man and his boy made their home beneath the wreckage. A meteoroid storm had forced them to make a crash landing and it had taken them a month to salvage the debris, and another month to finally accept that no help was coming. They had strayed too far from the spacelanes.

The man handed over the last of the packaged meals. Tomorrow they would have to find more food. It was a dry, barren planet, seemingly devoid of life. But there was no need to worry the boy yet.

“Eat up, son,” he said and ruffled the boy’s hair.