Flash Fiction Friday

So, I’m relatively new to writing flash fiction; however, it’s a great format for blogs since it requires little space while still allowing a full story to unfold. In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have chosen a story born of the restlessness brought about by a shot of Nyquil. Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed that on the label, Nyquil can cause “excitability”? Yeah, I guess that warning refers to me.

Oh well. On to the fiction–and be forewarned, it transitions into first person present. Please don’t rage quit my blog because of that.

Dog Lost at the End of the World

by Melion Traverse

The last time I saw Lena, she was a flash of summer-fox sable bounding over the fence. I scrambled after her, but the thick woods had swallowed her among green shadows.

Shortly afterwards, the world ended.

The sky exploded in an eye-searing blast of orange. I ran past people who had been facing east when the end began, and the intensity had burned the eyes right from their heads, leaving them shrieking as they stumbled through the gathering apocalypse.

Another flash rocked the world from the east, but I was out in the woods, facing north as I screamed out Lena’s name. Where could she be? With the world flooding in fire, I could only think of her streaking through traffic, a panicked dog at the mercy of equally panicked drivers.

On the hill that overlooks town, I threw down my jacket beneath an oak tree. On clear evenings, Lena and I would walk to those hills and watch the stars blink in the far coldness of space. Lena was the only dog I’ve ever had who would tilt her head back and seem to gaze up into the night as I pointed out constellations. Cassiopia, tortured for her vanity before the gods. Andromeda, man’s sacrifice to the gods. Orion with Sirius at his heel.

Lena would follow my fingertip as I traced patterns against the rich weave of the night tapestry.

Distant flashes of light flared within the orange as I yelled my way through our little town, Lena’s name raw in my mouth. She had trusted me the day that I’d pulled her out of traffic, slipping towards me as I knelt down and called the mud-matted dog towards me. She was too big to carry, but when I promised her dinner, she bounded right to my side as though we were old friends. She had trusted me to care for her and now that everything was ending, I had let her down.

That’s how I came to be under this oak tree again. After casting all through town, I had really hoped she would come back here and find my jacket. Dogs are supposed to do that, or at least so I’ve read. Lena hadn’t.

I must keep searching, but the shock is mixing my heart and my guts together somewhere in my chest and I need to sit down, get some deep breaths. Resting against the tree, the bark prickles through my shirt.

A slip of motion through the bleary smoke. Is it a trick of the weird orange light? No, it’s a dog. Lena!

“Where have you been?” I exclaim, pressing my face into the warmth of a world that has not yet ended.

“What are you doing here?” she says. “I’ve been looking all over for you!”

Even in the middle of a fiery apocalypse, I gape.

“Y-you talk?”

“Come on! We need to leave!” she wriggles from my arms and bounds past the oak tree, pauses to study me. “Come with me and I can save you. Our ships are ready to go.”

Ships? What the hell? I run after her, anyways. Following a talking dog makes just as much sense as sitting on my butt waiting for fire to sweep me away.

“I’m not a dog, Jason,” she says. “I’m a scientist. We came here to study your world. That we closely resemble dogs has allowed us to gather quite a lot of data.

“We got word yesterday that hostile extraterrestrials were approaching. Jase, this world is going to be destroyed and we’re all evacuating. I left this morning to meet and help ready the ships.” I read pity in the way she pins her ears.

So it’s an alien apocalypse. I feel a macabre pride that as the world ends, at least it wasn’t mass suicide.

“Jase! Run faster!” Lena calls.

I stagger on numb legs, slip in some mud. My dog is an extraterrestrial. My dog is going to fly me away from Earth. I’m not even sure what sort of nightmare I’m living.

“If I leave,” I gasp through burning snatches of breath, “I’ll be the last of my kind.”

“No, you won’t,” Lena answers. “There are more of us and many are saving their humans. You will not be the last—and you’ll always have me, so you’ll never be alone.”

Maybe if I had family, I would face the scorching end. But I’m an only child and death claimed my parents before they could see the sky burn orange. For three years, it has been Lena and me, and at the end of the world, it will be Lena and me.

We break through a thicket of trees into a meadow where a rocket waits, not quite tall enough to peak over the treetops; lights blip and flash along its metal hide. Humans trickle up a ramp, all accompanied by dogs with a stature and physiology very similar to Lena. No, not dogs—aliens. An elderly couple accompanied by an equally grizzled alien shuffle up the ramp. I offer the lady my arm and help hurry them aboard.

Inside, I slump away from the small porthole windows—I want to remember earth with green meadows and whisps of clouds.

A German shepherd huddles with a young couple and a baby.

“He’s a dog,” Lena whispers to me. “His people wouldn’t leave him behind when Rolth came to collect them.” Rolth must be the cream-coated alien talking to the dad.

The rocket shudders and lurches upwards with a roar, slamming my lungs against my spine. I think of the bright flashes pummeling the ground, the fiery sky; bile warms my throat.

“We’ve cleared the atmosphere,” Lena informs me. We are now part of the rich weave of night tapestry. I gather my friend to me and, pressing my face into her fur, I breathe in the last smoke-tinged scents of the world I will never see again.

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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Friday

  1. 😦 So sad! Especially that last line. I wish the dogs would’ve brought more people with them, or somehow knew a little more in advance so they could rescue more than the pitiful amount it seems they rescued.

    An emotional piece to be sure.

    Like

    1. I’m glad it resonated emotionally–that’s always good to hear.

      Some days, I think we humans would be lucky if alien-dogs rescued any of us at all. But then I go and take a nap, and get over being a cranky misanthrope . . . at least for another day.

      Like

    1. Happy to hear you liked it. The Melion’s Spouse read it and had similar questions. I hadn’t told him it was a flash fiction piece, so he reached the end and said, “Great chapter. I can’t wait to find out what happens now.” At which point, I said, “Uh, yeah, about that. Um, that’s kinda all there is to the story.”

      Like

  2. Oh my God! Great story. You really had me going.
    And I just love the fact that you mentioned Queen Cassiopeia.
    Yeah, well it’s my favorite star. 🙂
    Just like the other comment said, I wish that they saved more people.
    Well, I wish the earth was saved. That part is really sad.

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading and I’m glad you liked it.

      I’m a fan of Greek and Roman mythology, and the story of Cassiopeia intrigues me (as do the myths that stem from her actions). So I thought, all things considered, it was an appropriate constellation to reference.

      Like

  3. I loved this story! It’s sad, but it has a little hope in it, that some humans at least survived.

    I’m usually not a fan of first person present, but I think it really worked for this flash fic, because the story is so immediate.

    Like

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