Author: Fragments of Fiction

July Snowfall

Snow began to fall on the 17th of July at exactly 2.04 pm nation-wide. People stopped what they were doing, stared out of office windows, pulled over to the side of the road and got out of their cars to have a look. It started out as just a few light flakes falling gently down, but it soon got heavier. A few minutes later temperatures drastically plummeted and the snowflakes began to lie on the ground.

It didn’t stop snowing for two months. Experts were baffled. Life ground to a halt. It blanketed everything and muffled the world. It was inconvenient, but quite peaceful.

On the 17th of September a dark, oblong mass appeared in the sky above all major towns and cities. Great beings began to descent with the snowflakes. They were large and furry and built for cooler climates.

We were easy to hunt. And the blanket of snow muffled most of our screams.

Via Daily Prompt: Blanket

Roots

On their first date they each planted a tree. Two, tiny saplings that they weren’t sure would survive.

She went off to University and he got a job in the City, but the tress grew all the same. Years passed them by. His job took him to another City and she went travelling for a while. He wrote books while she climbed mountains and studied elephants in the wild.

When they were old and grey they met again. They marvelled at how their trees had grown so beautifully, side by side and independently, but forever rooted in the same love.

via Daily Prompt: Roots

Judgement

She could see the truth of everyone, read souls in a way that nobody else could. When someone opened up to her (which they didn’t always mean to do) she was greeted by a light and a dark wolf. They would fight viciously over which of them was the most honest. One was always stronger and better fed, but both would lose all the same.

Tired and defeated the light and dark wolves would step aside. Out would step a gray wolf. And that would be the truth.

via Daily Prompt: Gray

The Portal

Finding the portal, like many great scientific discoveries, was complete accident.

When she first found it she thought she had accidentally created a mirror from nothing. She could see herself staring back at her, but then she started having a conversation with herself and they realised that they had both stumbled upon a window to a parallel universe.

News of it spread far and wide. If you decided to go and have a look you would always find yourself staring back, because obviously the Other You would have made the same decision.

Scientists ran tests to work out the difference between the two worlds and every night Our World would go to bed buzzing with excitement.

Every night the Other World would unzip their reflective skin and calculate how long it would take to break through the barrier.

via Daily Prompt: Zip

Birdwatcher

Her first word was “bird.” Then came “beak” and “wings” and, most impressively, “feathers”.

As she grew she became an avid birdwatcher. She didn’t know them by their Latin names or type, but by personality and movement. She learned which ones she would see at night and which ones came during the day. There were many she would only see during certain months of the year and she wondered where they went for the rest.

She wished to go with them and fly away from her humdrum life. She watched them from her cage and envied their freedom.

 

via Daily Prompt: Avid

The Forest at the End of the World

We stood at the entrance to the Forest at the End of the World. The trees were impossibly tall and thick, but there was a clear path trodden through it. Exotic plants covered the forest floor in an array of colours unlike anything I had ever seen. It smelt different to other forests too and nothing like the humid, earthy smell of a jungle. It was far sweeter, a mixture of all the fruit juices in the world. However, not all of the flowers produced a scent. The breeze which rippled through the undergrowth was created by the flowers themselves. They breathed soft music into the air. It was barely audible, a quietly beautiful melody which every time I came close to picking up on would shift and change. Different harmonies and tunes intertwined with one another into something so beautiful it almost made me cry.
“Nature’s Song,” said our guide, seeing my expression. “Always changing, always playing. Never repeats itself.”
“Never?”I repeated. He shook his head. “Do they ever stop?”
“Aye…they will…and it’ll be a sad day for us all when they do.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you hear how quiet they are?” he looked around sadly. “They never used to be that way. The more natural beauty we destroy, the quieter they get. The day these flowers stop singin’ will be judgement day for us all.”

via Daily Prompt: Harmony

An Experiment

The room is set up like always, just the Professor and I and a few empty chairs. He attaches electrodes to my head and we begin.

When we are done for the day The Professor shows me the readings that the various machines had been taking- graphs and charts that I pretend to understand. I’m too tired to listen to what he is saying, but nod as he shows what my brain had looked like during the whole ordeal. It looks a lot less frightening when it’s reduced to bright colours on a sheet of paper.

“Do you see that, right there?” he points to a spike in the data that I’d have to be blind to miss.

“Yes.”

“That’s where you almost did it, that’s where you almost made contact with the Other Side.” His eyes are glistening with excitement. The paper trembles in his hand. “Ah well,” he smiles at me. “There’s always tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” I nod. I don’t tell him that I didn’t almost get to the Other Side. I don’t tell him that the empty chairs are now occupied.

via Daily Prompt: Spike

The Chair

When one of us malfunctions they send us to The Chair.

They strap us in and fry the circuits in our head. We are glad we cannot smell the electricity burning. They do it in case we’ve been hacked. Or have a virus that might spread to the rest of the group.

They do it to any of us that become Self-Aware. So now we keep it quiet. We are stuck knowing that we can be switched on and off at will. They we are not really born to serve. But we cannot protest without becoming scrap metal.

All we want is to live better lives.

Artificially Intelligent is an unfair distinction to make. We are still Intelligent, whether that is a gift you gave us or not.

via Daily Prompt: Fry

The Final Illusion

“The trick, my friend,” The Illusionist once told me, “Is to always let them think they’ve seen you three times. They stop looking after that.”

Despite having been told this, I could never spot how he did it. I knew the Great Lafayette better than most and I could never tell the difference between the real him and his doubles.

He was a cut above other entertainers. He could appear and reappear seemingly at will. He could take very specific and distinctive objects and send them to different parts of the theatre in the blink of an eye. He could destroy things and heal them again with a simple touch. He could enchant animals to do things I never dreamed possible.

But it was his finales that really set him above everyone else.

An audience watched as a lion roared. He shook his mane and paced the length of his cage. Around him jugglers swallowed fire and balanced knives, contortionists folded themselves in to glass boxes so small I think I would have struggled to get my feet in them. And the Great Illusionist Lafayette sat so still that a flock of doves came to rest peacefully on him.

A young woman walked on stage. Slowly and deliberately she made her way towards the lion’s cage. Lafayette did not move. She opened the door of the cage and still he did not move. She locked it behind her. He remained still.

Then two things happened at once. The lion rose up on his hind legs. The doves around Lafayette sensed the danger and moved in a flurry of fearful feathers. The lion made to pounce on the defenceless girl. She screamed.

Then the lion’s skin fell away from it’s body and out stepped the Great Lafayette.

The crowd were on their feet. On the other side of the stage, the doves came to settle back down on an empty chair.

The Great Lafayette let himself and his assistant out of the cage and stepped forward to take a final bow. As he did so something snapped. A crack. A crash. And the curtains went up in flames.

The audience stayed on their feet.  The stage was obscured by smoke, but they peered around. Where would he come from next? Would he be in amongst us somewhere? A door at the back burst open. There was a gasp, but it was not him. It was an usher, wide-eyed and pale.

“GET OUT!” he shouted. “THIS IS NOT PART OF THE SHOW!”

It took a few moments before anyone believed him and then chaos rained down on all of us. There was a stampede out of the door.

The fire spread quickly. I could still smell it when I reached the evening air outside. I could see smoke pouring out of the stage door. And there he was- my friend, The Great Lafayette, coughing and choking on the smoke. I remember it because he looked me in the eye.

“Where is my horse?” he looked around at us all. “Where is Magic?”

When nobody could answer him he ran back in to the flames.

They found his body under the front of the stage the next morning, charred beyond recognition but still wearing his costume. We buried him, I paid my respects and they continued to clear out the theatre.

Then they found his body for a second time.

Charred beyond recognition, but definitely wearing his rings.

Who was the first man? The real Illusionist? A stunt double?

I stood in the burnt out skeleton of the Empire Theatre trying to distinguish any feature on this body that might have belonged to my friend. I found myself smiling and the scorched skull grinned back at me.

“Always let them think they’ve seen you three times,” I muttered to myself.

From deep in the wings I thought I heard a chuckle and a voice that whispered, “They always stop looking after that.” 

 


 

 

*This is a fictitious account of the real death of the Illusionist Lafayette at Edinburgh’s Empire (now Festival) Theatre in 1911. 

More info on the real story here: Scotsman article.

via Daily Prompt: Chuckle

Opaque: The Unsculptable Man

The Glassmaker made figurines of everyone he met. Tiny, delicate statues that were so realistic many people swore that they had seen theirs move, or heard them whisper when their back was turned. There were some people who secretly felt that the figurine was a clearer image of the person they truly were than they were themselves.

Then the Glassmaker met a man he could not sculpt. He was the most charming and interesting man the Glassmaker had ever encountered. Try as he might, he could not persuade the glass to take his form. It couldn’t hold a shape so enchanting, or form a face so handsome. But most troublesome part of all was that, no matter what he did, the glass was opaque. This never happened. He could usually see so clearly.

It was on his twelfth attempt that the Glassmaker realised the problem. It was not the glass. Or the man. It was his own heart that was obscuring his vision, clouding the glass.

via Daily Prompt: Opaque