It’s been a while since I’ve written content specifically for this blog, it’s true. But I’m a college grad now (made Dean’s List my final semester!), so that means, in between job-hunting and re-acclimating to home life, I will (hopefully) have more time to write! Anyway, this piece is a response to Chuck Wendig’s latest Flash Fiction Challenge (Warning: language), in which it was required that the story include a psychic power. My randomly selected option (out of the 20 listed) was Divination, and the rest is, as they say, the product of too-little sleep and an imagination getting used to being able to stretch and fly again. They say that, right?
[Editor’s Note: this story turned out a bit, erm, darker than I’d anticipated. Do with that what you will.]
The signs were all wrong; I could feel it in my bones. Which was ironic, given that the signs I was reading were, in fact, in some bones. Rabbit, in case you were wondering. I didn’t kill it, though. I’m actually not sure who did, or if perhaps it simply expired in the middle of spawning its nineteenth litter of hairless, carrot-consuming Thumper’s, and was found later by some local shaman. Whatever the case, they were old by the time they ended up in my hands and helped me look into Fate’s inscrutable ways.
“What does it mean?” she asked.
“A lot of things,” I said. I didn’t want to tell her what I saw. Especially with all this intuitive static confusing the message.
“You’re not saying anything,” she said after a too-long pause. “That must mean it’s….” She trailed off. “How bad?”
I mumbled incoherently. She crossed her arms. “That’s not a word, Marc.”
I sighed. “Apocalypse. Or something close to it. You’re going to cause it, sometime in the next week or so.”
“Well that’s a bit more dramatic than I’d expected.” She leaned back in her chair.
“I thought you were just gonna say you saw me dying again.”
You may be wondering why Em was taking what I said so seriously. After all, it was just a bunch of old rabbit bones, fallen in some random pattern dictated by their unique shape, the surface of the table, and friction. What did that have to do with the apocalypse?
The short story is, a few years back I saved Emily Harris’s life after seeing her die in one of my dreams/visions/whatever-you-want-to-call-things-you-see-in-your-sleep-that-foretell-the-future. You know, the normal kind of thing you build a friendship on.
“I wish it had been that simple. No offense,” I added as an afterthought. She shrugged. We’d known each other for six years now, so she’d had time to decipher what I meant and what I didn’t. “The thing is,” I continued, “the signs from the bones don’t line up with the dream I had last night. They’re kind of opposites, actually.”
“What do you mean?”
I cleared my throat. “I mean, the bones say you’re gonna cause the end of the world, but my dream said you were up for a big promotion at work, and your life was about to take a lot of really good turns. And I don’t know about you, but causing the apocalypse doesn’t sound like everything’s on the up and up.”
“A bit of an understatement, but I won’t disagree.” She shook her head, bewilderment and confusion playing tug-of-war on her face.
“I’ll get you some tea,” I said. I was getting all twitchy just sitting there, talking about this stuff. Nothing like it had ever happened to me before, and I’d never heard of it happening to other soothsayers (or whatever you call us) before. I put the kettle on the stove (always the traditionalist, where tea is concerned), and rummaged through the cupboard to see if I had any of Em’s favorite chamomile left. That’s when I heard the voices.
“…didn’t tell him anything, but…only guess he’ll suspect….”
Who was she talking to? I was about to go into the room and see if she was on the phone, when I heard a response. I’d never heard anything like it. It was…deadly and delicate, infernal and intricate. Hearing it was like seeing the most beautiful, angelic person you’ve ever seen, and realizing that the axe in their hands was swinging at your throat, a wicked spark of glee in their eyes. And though it spoke even more softly than Em had, I heard it speak my name.
“Marcus Clevenger must die.”
I stood, the strangling fingers of shock encasing my body. It (I refused to believe that that voice belonged to a human being) had known my name. It had decreed my death. And, judging by the footsteps coming my way, Em was on her way to deliver my sentence.
She was smiling. I couldn’t say anything.
“I suppose it all makes sense now,” she said as she made her way to the block of knives, her fingers skating along the counter top. I shook my head. She removed my favorite fillet knife, the one I kept sharper than a northern winter wind. Of course she picked that one. “Your vision and the signs in the bones…they were both right. My Master just promoted me, and, after I’ve gotten rid of you, I can move on to take my place at his side. And all the world will bow before us.”
“I…I saved you,” I said, trying to make sense of the senseless.
She moved closer to me, and as she pressed the blade between my ribs, she whispered into my ear, “And aren’t you glad you did?”