“No, Daddy,” a face appears over the net. There is a certain combination of weariness, exasperation and indulgence that can only a small child can bring to bear on its allocated grown-up. “You aren’t supposed to hit it so hard I can’t get to it.”
“Keep writing,” the tone wavered between hope and command. “No. No that. It wasn’t that.” She flipped past another postcard, reached for a cigarette and took a shaking drag.
“It’s rubbish, though, isn’t it?”
“What’s rubbish?” She sat up. Her sunglasses were pointless in the dimming light so she pushed them up to nestle in her salt-tangled hair.
Pig of a day, thought Marty Sinclair as he made his way down the back stairs of the precinct and out into the blazing heat of the lot. He turned it over in his memory. The woman, crying cold tears. The lost man, eyes scoured blind. Brushing off the warning tape at the scene like a wasp through a cobweb. Blood, heat, flies, a haze of stink. Kneeling in the dust, saturated in sweat and red at the knees.
How had it even begun? Out here, by his car. He was almost out, on his way home, when he heard the sobs. Delicate, tidy, unfelt; a crocodile weeping for the gazelle. The kind of tears that meant there was something someone didn’t feel too bad about, but they wanted you to know that they should.
Twelve hours later, here he was. Suit dusty, and gnarled around his limbs like old bark. Face a mess of stubble and bruises. Nowhere closer to where he thought he might be when he followed her out to the field behind the old cable factory. She wanted him somewhere else, his fate growing towards it as surely as if she’d planted his destiny in that cracked dirt, watered by the blood of the body he’d found there.
Fine. He didn’t have anywhere else to be, may as well see where this would take him. He half-fell into his car and slept, right in the heat of the morning.
They were just diving. Jumping from the edge of the boat, they giggled and gurgled, collapsed, foaming, into the cooling sea. One of them essayed a clumsy somersault, another simply fell as if pushed. His arms pinwheeled for balance then he dropped like a cartoon character with whom gravity had caught up.
Genre microfiction experiment!
It started small, but fire has a tendency to spread. It crawled over desks and chairs, jumped gaps, dug its feet into sallow, stained carpets. Soon it filled much of the building. The alarm had been wailing ineffectually for a while, pulsing and bellowing as if the sheer volume of it could smother the flames.
"I’m not going to lie," he said, watching from across the street. "This wasn’t in the plan."
“So how long have you been falling?”
“TIME IS MEANINGLESS IN THE ETERNAL VOID! WHEEEEE!”
“So a while then?”