Hey all! My flash fiction for the week is a teaser piece for a current work-in-progress. This is the opening scene. Hope y’all like it!
Where the Gods Sleep
I feel compelled to record the dream I had last night, perhaps simply to solidify the account before it fades or, more likely, because I am driven by some obsessive need to validate what I saw…no, what I experienced; for it was more than some figment of my imagination or the mere product of chemicals reacting badly to some food I ate. No, what I encountered was indescribably palpable, more lucid than reality itself; Concrete, not abstract in the least.
I found myself in a wasteland which seemed to stretch into infinity; vast plains with rocky hills and edifices spotted by occasional solitary mountains protruding into the grey sky. Except it wasn’t really a sky. I could only see a dense fog bank that enveloped and rolled over all that was. But it was not shrouding a sky. A black void speckled with stars occasionally peaked through for moments at a time.
I only became aware of the varying terrain because I walked for such a long time that I witnessed the changes in topography. Yet, the geographical landmarks were not landmarks at all in the typical sense…for they were not part of the land at all.
They were all unique in appearance and assumed diverse positions, yet they all slumbered, unaware of my wandering presence amongst their gargantuan forms.
I walked for what seemed forever but only had time to observe a relatively small number of them. Their immense size, even the smallest ones, plus the space in between them made the scale like unto that of man versus mountains. From a distance, some appeared to be large rolling hills of various shapes, others humongous ridge lines stretching hundreds of meters, and then I spotted an enormous peculiarity in the distance, the one that drew me, both into the dream, I believe, and towards itself; that one was a colossal bluff that I was not able to draw close enough to during my dream state so that I might gather further details.
But what I did see of the others was disturbing and most certainly bizarre.
The first one I observed up close appeared, as I approached, to be two hills side by side with a small valley in between them leading up to a much larger and wider hill that stretched approximately four to five times longer than the twin elevations of land.
However, the closer I got the more fantastic my perceptions became. It was not a geographical oddity it was a living creature of heretofore never seen size lying dormant. It appeared canine but had two heads with massive jaws and jagged canines protruding beyond the lips. Each head possessed one huge Cyclopean eye hidden by a dark eyelid. Its skin was bare, without hair of any kind, a charcoal color except for some slightly lighter shades of grey and blacker portions about the head and spine. Also, what I thought were three lengthy individual rock outcroppings turned out to be jagged claws from the nearest visible paw.
I stared in awe for some time, motionless, taking it all in, before thoughtlessly meandering along to study the entire creature while also noting another monstrosity perhaps a mile away protruding through the fog.
I travelled on, my sights set on the next fleshy structure, which I quickly realized extended further than I originally thought. There were thin strands of translucent matter stretching out from the central mass all around it for some distance, but they were tiny in diameter compared to the creature they originated from; perhaps the thickness of a typical tree. They fanned out in a pattern that I envisioned was like that of a sunflower or similar. Yet as I walked in between two of them and approached the creature’s oval mass rising before me, I noted that the tentacles gesticulated slightly anytime I drew too close to them.
The central mass emerged from the fog. It was also translucent but contained something dark yet glowing. I realized then what, in shape, it appeared to be. It looked like a man-o-war jellyfish at rest upon a beach, its tentacle stingers spread round about it. But beneath its outer skin I finally recognized what lied beneath. By God above, it was a galaxy! Its innards consisted wholly of another mass made up of an entire galaxy. I became captivated at that point, fascinated by the impossibility before my eyes. As I stared in awe I envisioned its tentacles devouring the stars and planets and all the dark matter in between to feed its hunger.
For how long I watched the stars orbit within its bowels I cannot say but at last I pried myself away as if waking from a dream within the dream and began journeying toward the great bluff that drew me along toward my final destination here.
I remember other creature forms, one that looked like a giant sea urchin with a starfish on each end; one suctioned to the ground and the other end opened up to the stars above. Another, for all the world, appeared like a gigantic Venus Fly trap, stretched out along the ground, its mouth open, waiting for something to wander in. I steered wide of that one, I did, not feeling lucky at all if I had gotten closer.
I gazed into the distance at the largest feature, the one that called to me. It seemed to shift in place, like a dreamer, asleep and adjusting in their bed. It shimmered as it did so and I woke up. Looking around my room, I questioned the reality I had returned to for it seemed like more of a shadow of the world in substance than the world which I had just occupied did.
~~Mike Duke, Author, Stitched Smile Publications~~
Mike Duke is 44, has been married 25 years, and has a son and daughter both grown and out of the house (pretty much.) His German Shepherd, Ziva, is his baby now. Duke was a cop for 12 years, spending a few years on the SWAT team, before getting into the training industry. For the last 1o years he’s been teaching military, law enforcement, bodyguards, and private citizens High Speed, Tactical, and Off-Road Driving and Hand-to-Hand Combatives. He has also worked as a bodyguard.
Duke has been writing since high school, tackling it with true conviction in 2009. He has self-published two short novellas–“Ashley’s Tale” and “Ashley’s Tale: Making Jake”–and one short story, “The Awakening.” His novel, “Low,” will be published in 2016 by Stitched Smile Publications. Duke’s work is also included in SSP’s “Monsters v. Zombies” anthology.