Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction

Billy the Liberal

Billy drew back a few steps, preparing for his next charge. The unrelenting giant loomed over him like a cyclops, his singular eye scanning the oceans but never thinking to look down at Billy or the island. His gaze was perpetually fixed upon the horizon and never diverted. Billy stared up at the stone walls of the giant, and for a moment doubted his cause. But in an instant he reared up, dug his hoofs into the sandy soil, and barreled headlong into the rock face of the Giant. His attack made no impression, but Billy still pulled back and once again rammed the obelisk. After several strikes, Billy’s head began to swim. The Giant was no longer merely stone. He took the shape of a black monolith, one diametrically opposed to the black slits that were Billy’s eyes. With the shock of each consecutive strike, Billy became more and more sure of his purpose.


The shipmate laid his elbows on the bulwarks. He gazed down into the black sea beneath him. It was midnight, and a strong gale blew upon the ship. He opened his mouth and vomited into the ocean. By this point, he hardly retched when he vomited. Tired of the derision from the other crew members about his drunkenness, he had learned to manage his nausea surreptitiously. If anybody had viewed him from aboard the ship, it would simply look like he was contemplating the sea. Although it was dark, he could see down to the surface of the ocean, and when his vomit hit the waves, he watched it spiral out into strands like ink in water. Though most would find the sight revolting, to him it had become commonplace. He looked at the shapes of the vomit and the images it formed. Within a few seconds, it was gone. Once it had washed away into the ocean, it disappeared. An attempt to retrieve it would only return seawater, no different from water pulled from any other spot in the ocean.


The shipmate turned his eyes to the stars.


Suddenly overcome, the shipmate walked towards the stern of the ship. In his current state, the tossing and turning of the ship would have knocked him down had his hands not been constantly clasping the bulwarks. Despite his efforts, the wind pushed him away from the railing. He somehow managed to stumble to the leeward side of the ship still upright. He reached the rigging of the main mast and, steeling himself into sobriety, began to climb. He made it halfway to the crow’s nest before his arms went limp. He hugged himself into the ropes, hanging from the rigging like a fly in a web. High on the mast, he gazed at the stars. but they didn’t seem any closer now than they did on the deck.


Ishmael was awoken by the buzz of the in-flight comm. speaker.


Docking clearance granted. Prepare for rotational synchronization


Ishmael normally slept through these announcements, having grown accustomed to them during his many voyages. The first-time sailors were still floating around the cabin, amazed at the zero-G–something that hadn’t impressed Ishmael in decades. The worst, he though, was when the greenhorns would open a bag of candy-coated chocolates and snatch the floating candy out of the air with their mouths. Ishmael had grown so tired of this behavior that it required a strong moral principle to prevent him from deliberately stepping into the aisle and methodically knocking the candies out of their hands whenever anyone tried.


Return to your seats. Artificial gravity will take hold in 10… 9…


This was Ishmael’s 27th flight to Bedford Station. He had spent years working on mining vessels on the inner rim asteroid belt. Although the shuttle voyage to the station had grown routine, this particular flight had felt unique. Ishmael was no longer working for mining company. He had come to the station on his own accord.


Docking sequence complete. Please proceed to outer airlock


Ishmael waited for the rest of the shuttle’s passengers to depart before he left his seat. He hated waiting in lines and preferred to leave at his own pace. He was the last person to walk through the airlock, and it sealed with a hiss behind him as he walked into the hangar bay. The docking ring of the station was also where the majority of the hypersleep chambers were kept. As one walked along the ring, the hypersleep chambers lined the left hand side of the station. Each chamber contained one inhabitant. Their eyes were all open–not typical for people in hypersleep. The chambers faced towards the opposite wall of the ring, which were floor-to-ceiling windows that revealed the slowly-spinning Earth below. A common paranoia among asteroid miners was that being in hypersleep while staring at a wall would drive a person insane. That’s why the company had installed the windows. A waste of space, Ishmael thought. He approached his own sleeping pod, designation Q3-G3. He knew it was his chamber because it was positioned directly under the company logo, a W superimposed over a Y. As he approached, the computer voice sounded. “Greetings, Ishmael designation MB76…” He tuned out the voice; he already knew what it was going to say. He methodically punched his code number into the terminal and settled into hypersleep.


The hypersleep chambers faced the windows on the opposite side of the station. This windows were fixed upon Earth. Entire hemispheres could be viewed from their apertures. In hypersleep, the weeks went by like seconds, and the continents on Earth swirled into one large mass, hardly discernible from one another. From the perspective of someone in hypersleep, the Earth looked like a Jackson Pollack painting, with islands and nations slung out upon the ocean like paint on canvas. Though Ishmael had seen this dozens of times before, it looked different this time. The continents took shape. They appeared to him not as land, but as objects, Images of people and things. They paraded themselves in front of his sleeping and yet open eyes. In his slumber, his mind was open to the possibilities of these figures. For a moment, he saw a blasted heath. Another moment, he saw a Hyperborean winter scene. In another, he saw a comet shaped like a whale. The way the comet’s trail glittered told Ishmael that it contained the motherload: all the ore needed to make a an asteroid miner rich for life. In an uncommonly philosophical moment, he thought he saw what he could only describe as the breaking-up of the icebound stream of Time.


When Ishmael awoke, he was troubled by his experience in the hypersleep chamber. He questioned the aged workers in the chambers next to him about what they made of the images. They all mumbled half-answers and brushed him off.

(story about a) BITTER GRAD STUDENT

“Oh I get it, he’s doing a Moby Dick thing.” Isaac leaned back in his chair and yawned. “How many more of these will I have to read?” he wondered. “If Moby Dick is the American Bible, then this story is an issue of Watchtower; If you walked door-to-door with it, you couldn’t give it away.” Isaac laughed, proud of his Jehovah’s Witness joke. He scribbled a B+ on the rubric and tossed the story in the pile to his right. With the palm of his hand he slapped the top of the (much larger) pile to his left, and grabbed the next paper. “Unstapled, handwritten on notebook paper, and the kid couldn’t even bring himself to remove the frills. This’ll be good.” The story began…

“Captain Ahab was neither my first husband or my last. Yet, looking up–into the clouds–I him there: his gray-white hair…”
Isaac stopped reading. He looked to the file cabinet on the opposite end of his studio apartment. It was labelled “ideas.” He walked over to it, blew a layer of dust off the top, and opened the bottom drawer. Inside the drawer was a disorganized pile of papers. He pulled a notebook off the top of the pile. He glanced at it and tossed it aside. He pulled out another, again tossing it aside. He rummaged around for a few more minutes before sighing, “ah, here it is.” He pulled a box out of the back of the drawer. The box’s dark stained wood creaked as he opened it. Inside was a bottle.He unscrewed the cap and starting drinking.


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