March Madness Flash Fiction: All the Monuments You Broke by Ian Cann
TODAY’S BREW: Fancee Coffee.
I look forward to these flash fiction stories maybe too much, but they’re FUN. And one of the most fun folks, Ian Cann, wrote today’s haunting and lovely piece. The first thing he’s written in some time, if I’m correct, and he managed the whole thing pun-free. This is a stretch for him. Follow my buddy on Twitter https://twitter.com/thebeercolonel and his blog, http://t.co/BWwrfGCuUG.
All The Monuments You Broke
by Ian Cann
In the cold quiet moment the darkness spoke in riddles, and the man knew it as something new, wondrous and terrifying, creeping in the spaces between his dreams, wrapping creeping tendrils around his mind and settling there. “What are you?” he cried, flashes of light and creatures dancing before his eyes, but answer came there none, just a sense of endings and beginnings, scenes stripped of meaning and time.
This then is where you came in, hearing the screams and the scratches, knowing that something was amiss, that tonight there was something out of kilter with the balance of this mind and thus with your world, lit up like neon lights across a desert sky. The night ran on in double quick time, darkness turning into light as the sun rose, waking you from a cold sweaty dread.
Upstairs, the man woke, he thought, from a deep dreamless sleep. Like nothing had happened to disturb him, no memories except for a nagging sense of dread nibbling just behind his left ear. You knocked carefully and entered asking if he is alight, only for him to look at you askance asking why wouldn’t he be, as the doubts raced through your mind at five hundred miles an hour.
The flying monkeys of panic span round as you doubted yourself, what you heard and sensed, whether you just dreamt it, as the rain fell outside, piano notes in tooth and claw. You looked to the man, and he to you, a sense of confusion drifted in the glances, alienating you from each other as a nagging sense called you to step outside into the world.
Outside the people all seemed to stare at you and mutter to themselves as you walked past. They didn’t really, but you could hear the darkness telling you this, whispering in your ear that only it understood you, only it knew your real worth, comforted you like a cute puppy, told you that no one else could understand. The man walked with you, slightly puzzled by your sideways glances, still slightly perplexed by the little nagging questions in his head about last night, feeling them slip out as the darkness moved itself into your head. At the lights you thought that the walk/don’t walk sign was taunting you, the darkness manipulating your sense of value as it drew you along, the man being drawn off away from you, your emanating sense of menace scaring him to a distance.
Rain began to fall as you made a dash for the store, the drops made the man’s pace pick up, as he danced between them , the wetness shaking his thoughts, unnerving him as memories crept back into his head, merging with his present. The sense that the darkness had touched him, but at the same time not touched him, haunted his waking dreams as he fled back to the house, to the safety of the known and the warmed safe haven that the indoors offered his faltering senses.
You were left only able to watch him from a distance, helpless in the face of his disintegration, wishing you could break yourself to fix him. Or perhaps you already had, as if somehow trying to absorb the darkness from him, as if some strange form of mental osmosis could have served to drive you deeper into the darkness, whilst lifting him up closer to the light in which your friendship had once basked. This though had proved to be little better than a cruel joke on you both, taunting you as it only served to push you further apart. His demons whispering teasingly in his ear that your efforts merely acted to belittle his own suffering, that you thought him less than what he was.
Finally, this little tableaux of angst disintegrated like a kicked sandcastle, conversation dried up as the darkness dragged the man away from you and your knowing of him, turning him in on himself down the rabbit hole. Soon it was if you had never known him at all, merely the suggestion of a memory of what once might have been if the darkness had never visited. Where there should have been anger, sadness and frustration, there was only resignation and emptiness.
As the days passed, you questioned whether the darkness was ever really there at all, had some cruel trick been played on your time and senses. You thought that maybe you had constructed this deception to ease yourself out of isolation into the world at large. Then the whispering returned, somehow seeming to come from within the very walls of the house. The darkness tormented you, your inability to help the man being used as a weapon against you.
Then a few days later you found that the man was gone. No trace was ever found, as if he had just been erased from existence, claimed completely by the darkness. No one else seemed to miss him, or notice the space where once he had been. It sent your mood spiralling downward and inward as you reached into the space for comfort but came away with nothing. Time rolled out before you like an unfurled carpet into infinity and you saw the chance to dismantle and rebuild all that had come before, an identity de-constructed in fire and ice. You took the new blank slate over the horizon and left the darkness there muttering sadly to itself, alone in the hole if called home a home of the saddest violins, as you sought out the new spaces away from this.