Friday Flash Fiction: Fracture
As some readers may have gathered my confidence has taken a bit of a knock of late. A somewhat annoying turn of events following on the heels of stories such as Faraway, Pixies and Territory, that I am quite pleased with. Then my confidence ding happened and out came Devil Eyes, that seemed too trite, and last week’s Quantum Cigars somewhat ambitious and confusing.
In short, I wasn’t sure if I was going to post this week.
Then I thought, when in doubt: scare the shit out of people. Here’s Fracture:
By Neil Beynon
It’s just a name.
Not really. I was a big kid – able to take care of myself. No one much bothered me, then or now and it takes a lot to get me going.
Yeah, that would pretty much do it. You didn’t have many friends in school did you detective?
What’s the point? You’ve seen the CCTV. You’re not interested in what happened. You know what happened – all your trying to do is work out whether you send me to the funny farm or the cage. I’m not sure I’m that interested in either.
Yes but they don’t let you do that anymore. I know my rights.
Jesus, I’m bleeding…get away from me.
Where’s my lawyer? What do you mean he’s on his way? You messed up: I’m going to walk when he gets here.
He’s not coming is he?
You really want to know? Alright. Alright. Just don’t…not again…I’ll tell you everything. Where do you want me to start?
Are you sure? OK? In the beginning there was nothing. An eternity of void. One day for no reason in particular the nothing exploded and there was som…FUCK…you broke it!
OK: I think it started like a migraine.
Yeah, I’ve had them most of my life. Blinding ones…literally. They start with dancing light, like fork lightening that only I can see, winding its way round my eyeballs. A wraith’s warning. It usually stops me seeing. But that’s too simple. I can still see: shapes, broad landscapes but I can’t focus on anything, like I’m gazing at the world through the bottom of coke bottle.
It makes me feel shit. Like the world has gone bad while my eyes were closed.
Well, that’s what it felt like. But instead of ghosting…that’s what the dancing lights are called…I saw distortions. I’d look at someone and it would be like they were smudged, the shapes were there but the detail was wrong. I thought I was going blind; I even got my eyes checked.
Nothing wrong. 20/20 vision.
Thanks. There was a tail wind as well. Not many people could have made it.
Sure. It wasn’t my eyes and it wasn’t my migraine because the headache never arrived nor did my vision ever return to normal. It was freaking me out but my insurance wouldn’t cover a CT scan and so I had to wait for the NHS specialist to see me.
Not really, after about a fortnight I began to recognise patterns. The marks began to make a sick kind of sense. The cracks around the eyes told me stories; the translucent skin spoke to me of their defeats and, of course, there were the holes. The holes were the worst.
I’m sorry detective can I have a moment?
People’s lives: every heartbreak, every lie, every laugh, everything. Written all over them. There’s a reason my eyes are closed.
Yes: they’re sutures.
After I…did what I did, I realised that I couldn’t finish it…there weren’t enough bullets and so I made sure I didn’t have to look at them.
I’d be dead. That’s a bit like cutting of my face to spite it.
I’d rather you didn’t.
Yes, that’s right: I’d be able to read you. Not that your questions aren’t enough.
Why do you want to know about the holes?
OK: They’re big gaping holes in the centre of them, like they’ve been pierced by a giant hole punch.
Of course I can see their insides, they have no goddamned stomach but that’s not the worse thing. No. Not by a long shot.
The hole spoke to me. It told me why it had come and what it would do.
Sure, I could of tried to fill them up. I did. But they never made it.
What do you think I mean?
If you drive up to the quarry, I did right by them. It may take a while but you’ll find them.
Various things: concrete was just messy, paper didn’t really stay in, plastic was a bitch to bind and metal…well, the welding torch kept setting them on fire.
Roast pork? More like burnt chicken, unpleasant either way.
It got worse. I couldn’t fill them up but I saw them filled. In vast buildings of stone of every shape you could imagine; the people went in empty and came out full. Faint sheets of vapour marked them, that and the fetid stench of that artificial human polyfiller.
It was the colour of tar.
It just seemed to be passing from human to human, like a virus. In the end I saw people who didn’t have holes using it, I saw them smearing it on their faces to hide the cracks. Saw them use it as tanner to darken their skin. They even tried to give it to me.
I got away.
I realised we needed a desperate measure. Since cure wasn’t possible the only way to get rid of it was to remove the transmitters. So I did.
I did my eyes afterwards. While I waited for you lot to show up.
I told you: it didn’t work. I could still see the holes, the ones who were covered in it and the ones who were full of it. Nothing I did made any difference.
No really you shouldn’t take them out. Surely after what you’ve heard you don’t want…
No I won’t.
You’re a stupid man detective…a stupid man…cracked and leaking. That won’t do at all, but don’t worry: I’ll fix it.
Now, just hold still a moment.
There are no prizes for working out that I cribbed the style (of only the answers from an interview) from Neil Gaiman’s Orange. I wanted to see if it would lend itself to horror where often the most effective technique is suggestion.