Flash Fiction Friday: Full Fathom Grave

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They lowered him to the ocean floor slowly and with great deliberation. The rope twisted and swayed in the cold and the current, but held firm.

Down, down, down the man fell, encased in iron and brass. He couldn’t hear anything but the silence raging in his ears, or see anything but the fog of his own breath on the glass. His helmet was heavy and confining like a prison, and his diving suit kept his limbs locked in position. He wasn’t truly a man anymore so much as the flesh component in a heart of metal.  A blind and deaf witness to the miracles of the deep,

It took nearly an hour to each the bottom, or as close as geography and rope would allow. In this part of the sea, the ocean floor was not a plain or a field but a series of slopes and ridges, like the foothills at the base of a mountain range, but these peaks delved deep in to the watery depths rather than upward towards the sky. More than once, the man thought he had reached bottom, only to stumble forward and tumble further into the abyss.

The fish abandoned him first, followed by the light. Darkness rose to meet him swallowing him whole in his stiff, soundless blindness. And that was when the ocean spoke to him. There were no words, no sensations, but he understood the message clearly. He felt it in the the creaking and cracking of his diving suit and in the chill that burrowed deep into his bones.

You do not belong here. Take your metal and your horded breaths and leave. 

The man wanted to obey, but it was out of his hands. The men on the surface would lower him until there was no more rope and only then would they haul him out from what might prove his watery grave.

A thousand fathoms down.

 

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Hospital of the Dolls

deca1898823a19b9680bcc57cdc95ea5No one ever went into the doll’s hospital. It had been there for years, perched grotesquely on Main Street between the post office and the ice cream shop.

Children hurried past, casting grim, curious glances at the dismembered doll heads and little bodies, the same morbid collection as ever. One of them even seemed to wave at passersby as they hurried along.

Once when Jefferson Hinchcliffe-Jones was seven years old and eager to prove his bravery, he waved back at the doll, creaking back and forth on its string. It was the scariest moment of his life. All the dolls stared back at him.

The owner of the hospital was a delightful little man. Mr. Whitaker was a favorite at the local bar and was always full of laughter and stories, always willing to help his neighbor.

“Shame about the shop,” his friends would murmur to each other in secret. “He’s such a nice man otherwise.”

No one doubted Whitaker’s dedication or his craftsmanship. The few pieces he was known to have repaired, mostly antiques, were restored, even transformed under his touch. As good as new or better. But neither could it be denied that there was something creepy about them afterwards.

Dolls that went into Whitaker’s hospital seldom returned, and if they did, then they were never the same again. Well-known companions became strangers, watching from behind familiar, glass eyes. They could never quite put their finger on what had changed, and no one dared ask Whitaker.

And so, slowly, year by year, people stopped bringing their dolls to the hospital. But the storefront never changed; the door was always open; Whitaker was always waiting.

And the dolls were always watching.