Author: Morrow Brady
My fingers traced the fine etching of the gold Byzantine coin, lit by the moonlight flooding in through the large window. The etched scene depicted a perfectly carved stone pedestal against a rocky outcrop, overlooking a luscious wooded valley. I looked up from the coin into the cavernous room of the museum. The same pedestal sat before me and I wondered if the dark figure that stood at the centre of the coin’s pedestal would appear tonight.
We didn’t know who built the pedestal. We only knew it sat exposed, forever looking outward while the world transformed around it. The Watchers came to guard and preserve the pedestal. Each generation, reconsecrating the earth with secret ceremony.
In this solemn museum, its vista was now framed by a bullseye window which overlooked that same valley, now burdened by an industrial metropolis of glass and steel.
On watch, I edged forward and eased the coin into the recess. It sighed as a hidden mechanism withdrew it slowly like the last gasp in sinking sand. I stepped back behind a gold inlay border. Expectation prickling within.
The ominous, waist-high pedestal invited the Traveller. Its mirror-flat, dark stone surface reflecting the depths of space and time. I watched slow-moving dust motes give structure to moonbeams that spanned the pedestal like ghosts of dockside gantries. Suddenly they lit up red and my heart skipped. Redness faded, as the air-car sailed past the window.
I smirked at my blind faith. It had been ten generations since the last Traveller appeared. This, however, was good, as the Traveller only appeared when our path was lost. The acts of the last Traveller were testimony to that. Between their arrival and death, they had spirited in the Age of Enlightenment and triggered the French Revolution. Their absence meant we were ok.
To my shock, a deep hum sounded from the pedestal. Ancient mechanisms straining like some tectonic battle. I stood in awe as the pedestal shuddered and fell into a cloud of gold. Glittering steps appeared and after a silent pause, I began to descend. Below, sinewy gold mechanisms filled a chamber like a clockmaker’s soul.
Overflowing from a deep recess, were paper-thin gold discs with a familiar etched scene stretched to great proportions. The process of the pressed coins having long ago been interrupted by an angular tree root. I worked to clear the root and discs began to fall into a marked seam. Machinery instantly came to life. A golden hue irradiated throughout the chamber to form a starlit galaxy revealing peculiar geometries. I turned and from an anti-chamber a dark figure appeared, glowing from the core.
“Watcher! Well done!” its voice boomed, startling me.
“You reopened the long-closed door. I am deeply grateful”
“Welcome Traveller” I stammered, still shocked.
The Traveller continued.
“Seems things have gone astray. Your people are not prepared for the star stone and its cataclysmic arrival is imminent. By now, you should have colonised your solar system but instead, you make war as your planet burns. The final day is nigh”
“Final, Traveller?” I puzzled.
“Yes. Final! The pedestal no more serves a purpose. Your service as a Watcher is over. You are free. As the final Traveller, I bring forth the devolution of this sphere and all that dwells on it”
The Traveller started ascending the steps. Halfway up, the tree root smashed against his ankle and shortly after, its bloodied remnants were returned to the recess.
I am the last Watcher. I care for the pedestal to the end.
365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.
The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.
"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."
We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.
Voices of Tomorrow
Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.
If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org