Friday Flash Fiction: Silverlight 3

Well, I promised you flash this week and flash you shall have. I think I mangled this one by drafting too much of it in my head but as ever feedback is welcome.

By Neil Beynon

Awake. Something’s wrong: my tongue feels like worn carpet, head feels like it was used to wear the carpet down. The floor is too close. The bed the wrong shape: too small, contorted and whose voice is that.

I’m in the living room, not a good sign.

I unfold from the couch, the television prattles on at me incoherently, the presenter’s monotone merging with the noise of my headache. What was I drinking last night? Where’s the bloody remote?

Something bites my foot.

I hop clutching my wounded limb, there is a piece of sharp plastic that looks like the corner of my television remote sticking our of it. As I sit down again to remove the splinter I notice the chunk of plaster missing from the wall, I should fix that…later. God damned it hurts pulling out the plastic.

As I bend to remove the splinter my bladder screams in protest, full of whatever I managed to pour down my throat last night, and propels me from my chair towards the bathroom, my foot trailing blood in my wake. Jo and I must have had a fight. I can’t remember what about. The empty vodka bottle clinks loudly before shattering as I trip over it and I pause for a moment to see if it has woken Jo.

No. All quiet.

The curtains are open in the bathroom. The sky outside is beginning to lighten lending the world a curious kind of silver half-light, illuminating an alien world that is both familiar and weird. The dawn cannot be far away. I’m surprised I didn’t wake Jo. I wonder if anyone else is up at this time?

I muse on this as I piss.

My head still feels really bad and as I move the knuckles of my right hand, the bones grind in a way they’re not really supposed to. Something streaks across the garden. I’m looking out at the terraces behind our house, wondering whether I can catch a crafty glimpse of flesh from some of the open curtains. And so I don’t really see it properly. It’s too big to be a cat and too agile – leaping over a man high fence – to be a dog and too dark to be a fox. A grey shadow that moves so fast that I see nothing other than a smudge of movement textured like fur, maybe a flash of something red and yellow, did it look at me?

I’m not sure.

I finish up and step to the window, pressing my face to the cold glass, ignoring the condensation as I try to make out its progress but it’s gone. Perhaps I imagined it? I’m tired and aching and I really need to go back to sleep until my head works again.

I pause at our bedroom. The door is almost shut and my hand – my right one, the one with swollen knuckles – traces the cracked and splintered pits that have been driven into the wood. I can hear breathing the other side of the door but I can’t tell if Jo’s sleeping or awake. I push the door a little, it creaks on the hinge and the breathing stops for a moment. My bruised knuckles scream at even the barest of contacts with the door and I let go. I hear breathing resume even as I hold mine, swallowing down the cry I want to make at my broken hand.

Softly I pad back into the living room.

I swallow a couple of painkillers with what I think is a glass of water but is actually the remnants of my vodka. I cough. My nose burns with the escaping booze. I’m never drinking again.

My eyes close, I try to remember the evening’s events. I open my eyes again to look at the strange pattern on the other wall, a dark gaudy stain across the plain derivative paper and for a moment it looks like blood. A hard fist clenches in my chest.

My eyes follow the stain down and I see the cracked plate and desiccated food on the floor below. The fist in my chest loosens a little as I sit up and, thinking of the shadow I saw, I open the curtains to watch the sunrise come up. It’s been a while since I did that and I need to be calm before Jo appears, not let on that I can’t remember.

I’m asleep in moments. My mind wanders the fragments of the night before, as I watch myself argue with Jo on some level I know it’s a dream. And yet I don’t, it’s like I’m watching someone else, someone I know but not me.

The noise brings me awake in a heartbeat. It is a loud crack, a single shot in the dark, a silver bullet for the grey shadow or perhaps the front door slamming shut?

I’ll ask Jo in the morning.

About Neil

Father of two (but you can only see one), writer, digital boffin, reader, geek and probably some other stuff. Trapped behind a keyboard or chasing around after a 2 year old, somewhere in Wales.

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