Slowly, to consciousness, come and find your face crushed on pavement viscous. Dirt falling from eyelashes, blinking it away, gradually bringing your mind around.
On a long-stretch of road, nose full of tar, all movement meagre, your energy’s long fallen from bones. Use your dwindling strength to bring back what happened. Raise hand to forehead and press down on the crumbling wound there.
At first there’s no warmth. Only the hot black pain of frostbite. Then like a shock, the blankness ends again and I feel my skin start to thaw, my blood slowly pulsing through veins that had almost forgotten how to push it.
We’d gotten a vehicle to Mars for Christ’s sake, and this is what they choose to celebrate? Curiosity, out there all on his—its—own, humming to the frequency of “Happy Birthday”? Mics up to max, an ear-numbing static filling our large control room, some of the more senior staff sing loudly over the noise while eating crumbly cupcakes over their consoles. Normally I might put a stop to it, but they’d been working so hard.
Recently, SNAP gallery had this great flash fiction contest–writers were meant to create a 750 word story based on Gabriela Jolowicz‘s incredible work, PIVO (pictured)! Though I didn’t win, I am proud of the story I submitted, and have included it for your perusal below. (My humble thanks to the artist for the inspiration).
3 AM, downtown’s deserted. Just my truck and the road.
I shouldn’t have come this way, too high profile for carrying valuable cargo. Hitting every red light, besides. Good thing the cops are all busy with them murderers and ruddy fucks causing shit where they shouldn’t. I don’t plan on meeting any trouble. Not tonight, anyway.
“Think that one looks fresher than the others?” I flick my cigarette at a grave to my left. Both of us watch as the cherry fades into the yellowing sod.
“What’s the name?”
“Hughes, 1943 to 1987,” I say.
Nicholas gives the stone angel a kick. The priest at the bottom of the hill stops mid-eulogy and scolds us with a brief silence. A few black-laden mourners notice the pause and begin looking around strangely, unaware of the priest’s line of sight.
Lights off, we’d crashed hard onto his grandma’s sectional, still spinning after our longest night yet. Through the fog of comfortable darkness, Aleks mumbled on about his dreams. How none seemed exactly the same, but had a similar feeling. Like knowing for certain you were about to die, and praying for the end.
“And there’s this sound…” he’d managed to say through the alcohol I could smell on the both of us, “…like breaking. Like the sound of rocks breaking. Over and over again. A mountain cracking in half.”