Tag: short story

The Last Wisp of the Universe

Since astronomers first looked up at the stars they’ve wondered about the expanse of the universe. The shape. How many galaxies are there? How far does it stretch beyond the observable? Does it have edges?

Not really.

But she does have elbows.

Flight 374

The flight from New York to LA takes just over 6 hours.

Martin VonBraun hugged his brother Joe goodbye at airport security. He spent some time in duty-free before he headed to Gate 7A. Joeseph made his way back into the city, through crowded tubes and up a cramped escalator to his office. He sat down at his desk as flight 374 was taking off from New York airport.

An hour later, Martin was sitting back and choosing which in-flight movie to watch. Joe was pouring over a legal case on his desk, feeling a little too hot. He called his secretary to open the window.

Two hours into the flight, Martin got up to use the bathroom. Joe was in a bathroom too, vomiting blood.

At hour three, Martin was asleep. Joe was paralyzed, but fully conscious.

At hour five, Joe watched as his fingers shriveled and turned black. Martin ordered a beer from the flight attendant.

The flight from New York to LA takes just over 6 hours. Parasite X kills its host 5 hours and 11 minutes from the time of infection.

Flight 374 was delayed coming into LA airport. Nobody from air traffic control would answer them. When they did eventually pluck up the courage to land, it appeared from the air that all flights had been grounded. As they came closer,  they saw the corpses littering the runways. Blackened and shriveled, like a fire had spread through every living person, leaving all else untouched.

The plane sat on the runway, but nobody ran out to meet them and nobody dared leave. They checked their phones. Messages from loved ones came through- emotional jigsaw pieces of the last 6 hours, as the parasite had infected and taken down the country. Possibly the world. The pilot radioed out. Perhaps there were other flights full of the uninfected. Perhaps there were more than these 204 survivors. Or perhaps not. It would only take one infected passenger to take down the whole plane. Maybe they’d all just been lucky.

Martin’s thought about calling his brother, but he couldn’t seem to move his fingers. The corpse of Joe VonBraun lay in a silent office, surrounded by so many more. His dead fingers curled against the floor. The parasite inside him, still hungry, took root in his brain. Joe was gone, but his fingers twitched. His eyes opened.


Via Daily Prompt: Infect

Black Noise

I don’t hear things like you do. I hear them in colours.

It doesn’t quite translate the way you think. White noise tends to be a little pink. Finding white noise that is purely white is as difficult as finding untouched snow in a playground. There’s too much going on these days- too many radio frequencies, too many phone calls- it pollutes it all.

Water tends to speak in violet and not deep blue like you might think. Stormy seas shout to me in a loud, purple haze. Blue noise is low and kind of unsettling. You can find it in small, glowing lines around wires. Electric blue, you might say.

If the world is a canvas, it was first painted green. Not just in the trees and plants, but in the background noise too. Man-made noises throw a lot of red and brown in to the mix. They bleed together a lot and it can get messy. I used to walk in the woods a lot, away from the city, to try and find that undiluted green.

It’s the only place I’ve ever seen black noise. And I haven’t been back since.

I suppose I had always known that it must exist. For white noise to exist, black must also, and so turns the colour wheel. I just hadn’t given much thought to what that might actually mean.

I was alone in the forest, enjoying the green, when I started to notice it get darker. At first, it turned to a mossy green, but then it grew darker still- like a terrible mould had spread across the forest floor, climbing up tree trunks and turning everything to rot. I couldn’t hear anything different, but the green was fading.

And then I saw her.

She lay motionless and pale beneath a tree, deep cuts on her arms and chest, at least one of them fatal. Her mouth was open in a scream and black noise poured from it.

Silence.

Black silence, the true colour of a sound that would never be.


Usually, when I do the daily prompt I google the word for inspiration. Just to see if there’s a way of interpreting it that I hadn’t immediately thought of, or if something else sparks an idea. Today I found this cool Wikipedia page on the Colour of Noise and it was really interesting.

Via Daily Prompt: Noise