Friday, July 15, 2011

Entry #24

by Precie

Without warning, the world ended in fire.

Or, at least, there was no warning for my people.

Mother correcting my brother's penmanship before school. Father ordering me to get a haunch of beef from the refrigerator to prepare for the lunch rush.

The lights go out. The ground bucks and waves. Massive slabs of meat buffet me as I try to dodge the barbed hooks clanging around me.

Even after the earth settles, the electricity does not return. When I finally find the door, it does not give. I have no way to tell how much time passes, how much time I spend screaming, pounding at the door. No way to tell how much of the fluid on my hands is blood or tears or excretion, as the smells combine with the rotting carcasses surrounding me.

“You were one of the lucky ones,” I am told over and over by rescuers, by doctors, by other survivors.

I do not feel lucky. How can such an endless nightmare be lucky? Almost nothing is left standing. Ashen remains blend into the rubble.

The emperor will not let this cowardly strike on innocents go unpunished. He will rain an answering fire on our enemies.

I do my part. The Red Cross nurses, foreign and incomprehensible, smile as I sprinkle the oleander blossoms on their desk and lay out the meager feast I have concocted from their rations. They will be the first to burn, from the inside out.


Catherine Vibert said...

Your words encapsulate many of the same things I saw in Jason's image. Excellent Precie.

Anonymous said...

Hey love, who knew you could be so dark? I think the professor gig is getting to you.

But of course the writing is excellent, as per usual, tight and crisp and purposeful. Well done, QDSB!

Aimee Laine said...

The the world didn't actually end. I was wondering how you'd get around that first line with another 245 words. ;) But I can sense in this person that he/she WISHES it had so their plight would have been absolutely elimanted. :)

Catrina said...

Quite a different point of view. Chilling when you think of how many times we are the bombers, not the bombed.

This one made me think. Good job!

pegjet said...

I assumed from context that oleander was a poison--yes it is.

Powerful story, and a complete one too. This is wonderful flash.

Michele Zugnoni said...

Very intriguing concept. Your use of language is topnotch; your words were powerful, and drew up vivid imagery. I could see this unfolding, from the simplicity of purchasing lunch meat to the heartbreaking symbolism of sprinkling oleanders onto someone's desk. The last line was truly haunting; I felt as though I'd watched your character go full circle, from sheer innocence to a blatant need for revenge.

Thanks for sharing!

Precie said...


Rosey--yup, once I decided where and when I thought the image "was," the story went dark. Thanks! Can't wait to read yours.I miss you!

Aimee-- yes...I probably should have included the year in the title--1945. The world didn't end...but in many ways it did.

Catrina--Exactly. Thanks!!

Pegjet--thank you. Yes, actually, the fact that it's a poison turned was, um, serendipitous...I chose it for other reasons, but it fit better than I expected.

Mikki--thank you!

Aniket Thakkar said...

You always have the best first lines.

Like others said, top-noch writing and a gripping story. Very well written. Thanks for a wonderful read.

Joni said...

Someone else used the word "chilling," and I have to agree. This one really takes hold and doesn't let go. Great writing.

Anonymous said...

This is powerful and horrific and lovely, at the same time. Great ending.

Precie said...

Anklet--aw, thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

Jodi--thanks! I appreciate your comments.

J.A.--thanks--so glad I managed all three. :)

PJD said...

What can I say that hasn't already been said? OK, Aniket said best first line... I'll go one better and say best final line. I think you've got a contender here. You've captured normal life, devastation, and aftermath beautifully. It's complete and special. And yes, chilling. And unfair.

fairyhedgehog said...

This was very vivid with a nice twist at the end.

I love the rescuers' incomprehension that the main character isn't lucky at all.

Precie said...

Pjd--aw, shucks. Much appreciated.

Gina--thanks. Glad you liked it.

Jade L Blackwater said...

Yikes what a final line! I like the perspective you chose for this piece - well told.

Unknown said...

Loved the last line "They will be the first to burn, from the inside out." Is it the oleander blossoms that's gonna get them?

Very nice done!

Dottie :)

Old Kitty said...

It's a powerful story! Thank you, take care

Michael Morse said...

There's an urgency here, far deeper than the one felt by the narrator, or even the writer. I'm left shaken, and a little less certain of my illusionary web of safety. Any writing that creates such an emotion is worthy of praise, and what better praise than having another person read your words and be moved by them.

bluesugarpoet said...

1945 - I thought of that while I was reading this piece! The rescuers were also the perpetrators. Nicely done! ~jana

Precie said...

Jade--thanks very much! The POV really spoke to me.

Dottie--thanks! And, indirectly, yes--it's not the blossoms they can see that will get them. It's the ground up oleander material, mixed into the food.

Kitty-- thanks! And thanks for reading.

Michael-- I appreciate your response. And, yes, really, there is no better praise. Thanks so much.

Jana--thank you. I wasn't sure if I'd balanced the references enough to convey the time and place.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Oh man! I got the shivers at the end.

JaneyV said...

Oh Precie - this is so moving. I've just been reading Peter's piece which perfectly encapsulated the regret and guilt of a life taker in the aftermath of the events in Japan in 1945 and here you show the devastation of the soul of the survivor of that horrific act. I feel for her - all that pain and torment and hate that boils inside and spills out into vengeance. I think your description of her nightmare being stuck in the rubble with the rotting corpses of her family will stay with me for some time. Revenge is so pointless but the way you described her experience, it's hard not to sympathise.

Finally, I love the use of oleander - the terrible beauty of it is chilling.

I think is a very strong and moving piece. xxx

Richard Levangie said...

This entry is wonderful and chilling. In just a few phrases, we see the horrors of nuclear warfare in a way that is profound and frightening. I love it.

It reminds me of late 1980s when, to mark the anniversary of Hiroshima, protesters would paint the city with white paint, in the shape of huddled, vaporized bodies, throughout my hometown. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

The paint would fade in days. The significance of the protest is with me still.

Wendy said...

Precie, I love the dramatic beginning and then the sandwiching in of the ordinary life events. Nice!!

Peter Davidson said...

First class piece, powerful and beautifully written - definitely a contender!

Sarah Hina said...

Fantastic, Precie. Like I'd expect any less from you.

It was brilliant setting her in a meat freezer when the devastation hits. Absolutely brilliant. And the ending was superb.

Precie said...

Lisa--shivers? :) thanks so much!

Janey--it's funny how our pieces complement each other without really overlapping. And " devastation of the soul" is pretty much what I was going for. After the contest is done, I'll let you know why I picked oleander ( or a quick google will tell you). Thank for being such a generous reader. :)

Richard-- thank you and thanks for sharing. I'm going to try to google images of such protests...sounds quite moving.

Wendy--thank you...thanks for reading.

Peter-- I'm just glad you enjoyed it. Thanks.

Sarah--it's always wonderful to see you. I appreciate your faith in me and your feedback. :) thanks for stopping by.

C. Sonberg Larson said...

The concise imagery moves this story from an ordinary day to extraordinary horror that grips the reader. Great writing.

phatichar said...

Excellent piece there, Precie, bloody marvellous.

Could feel the pain there...

Jay R. Thurston said...

A scorned yet malicious POV on this one. Well told!

Brigid O'Connor said...

A powerful piece.
The survivors guilt is an interesting question to raise, how often is 'you are lucky' said to people in devestating circumstances?

Precie said...

C--thank you!

Phatichar-- Ooh, that's the first time I've gotten a " bloody marvelous"!!! I deeply appreciate it.

Jay--I think the anger would be understandable, though not justifiable.

Brigid--thanks! Glad it made you question. :)

Stephen Parrish said...

I agree with Pete that this is a contender. Very well written. You illustrated a character transformation in a mere 250 words. And who doesn't like a flash fiction ending that raises eyebrows?

Jodi MacArthur said...

The horror of being surrounded by hanging meat in a refrigerated cube while your family and everything else you have ever known burns to the ground is just... I don't know what to say. Lucky is not the word that would come to mind though. I can see why firelust is ablaze in her soul.

Very entertaining read! And nice details.

Precie said...

Stephen--thanks for the kind, albeit coaxed, words.

Jodi--thanks...firelust...I like that.

Hilaryr said...

Oh totally chilling... Your imagery is excellent and a nice twist too. I hope it does well in the vote

Precie said...

Hilary--thanks very much. I'm just happy to be here.

Anonymous said...

A huge world to create in 250 words, and you did it. The blossoms were a deft touch to give it another anchor--something else to remember it by. A high scorer.

Congrats on Forties Club!