Author : Duncan Shields, Featured Writer
Iâ€™m standing in front of the safety glass and seeing the thing look up at me. Its legs end in black tentacles that look diseased. The fingernails of its left hand are very long. One nostril is dripping what looks like grape juice onto the cell floor. Itâ€™s a little pathetic and I get a swell of sympathy that I have to stamp down on immediately.
I have to remember the deaths. I have to remember Allison.
I try to keep the steel in my voice. I can see Allison in his jawline. I can see Allison in the patches of long blond hair that poke through the short black haircut. I can see Allison in his left blue eye with the long eyelashes.
â€œAsk question?â€ he says to me.
â€œYeah, I have a questionâ€ I say. â€œAre you scared of dying?â€ I ask this thing.
With a shock, I can see that it has two blue eyes now and the rest of its patchy and uneven hair is turning blonder by the moment.
â€œNot as long as I know youâ€™re here with me.â€ It responds. Its voice is getting higher, closer to Allisonâ€™s. Its English is getting better. Itâ€™s gaining focus. Its shirt is getting tighter as Allisonâ€™s breasts push forward and fill the manâ€™s shirt that itâ€™s wearing.
Itâ€™s gaining strength by the second. Allisonâ€™s been gone for months. I thought I could to do this. I was kidding myself. My vision is starting to blur with tears and I can see that Allison is nearly complete before me behind the glass.
I watch my fingers reach towards the lock. I stop and look at my traitorous hand. I donâ€™t have the code to open the cell anyway. I have no idea what I was about to try to do.
â€œBrianâ€ it says. Allison says my name. â€œLet me out. Letâ€™s go somewhere. Quit your job. We can live somewhere hot. Letâ€™s forget this and get out of here.â€
I breathe deeply. I realize that Iâ€™m standing and my forehead is pressed against the glass. With a start, I stand back and straighten my clothes. Control. Control. I turn and walk towards the main elevator up to the office. I leave this parasite behind.
â€œBrian, theyâ€™re going to kill me!â€ the Allison thing shouts to me as the door to the elevator closes.
Itâ€™s a few floors up and then a brief scan on checkout and Iâ€™m out. They saw the whole thing on CCTV so they donâ€™t ask me any questions. They let me out into the fresh air and into my empty life.
The department doesn’t know when Allison was taken. I may have been living with the parasite for days before they detected it. Maybe weeks. I might have made love to it.
I get behind the wheel but the shaking and the tears start before Iâ€™ve started the car. I feel almost grateful that the thing in the there let me see her one more time.
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