Half-way to Home O’Clock – A Flash Fiction Piece
Today is Friday, which means Chuck Wendig mysteriously pulls an idea for a flash-fiction challenge out of some mysterious hat of mystery, and other people write things.
The theme of today is “something-punk”. So that I may continue my story from the past two weeks, I have created abduction-punk. I hope you enjoy it.
Half-way to Home O’Clock
My eyes flicker open.
I expect to see all sort of strange torture-technology; probing devices, mechanical arms terminating in saws and drills, little grey men wearing hygienic surgical masks and wielding 12-inch needles.
I don’t expect the comfortable bed. I don’t expect the same faded pinstripe wallpaper I’ve been falling asleep to since I was fourteen years old. I don’t expect the Dark Phoenix poster fixed tenuously to the wall by clear tape. It looks like my room. It smells like my room (40% damp, 20% unwashed clothes, 40% last week’s decomposing pizza—so sue me, I’ve been in Guatemala of late, and it’s not like I can afford a maid). I’m not used to waking up in my room after an abduction, though. Aliens are inconsiderate bastards. So, just to make sure, I perform a visual scan.
Clock on the wall which is always four minutes slow no matter how many times I set it; yes, that’s mine. Curtains of differing lengths because my poor old mom couldn’t sew to save her life; check. Decrepit alarm-clock on the chest of drawers which sounds like an air-raid siren when it’s going off; it used to make my neighbours nervous, until they realised our town didn’t have an air-raid siren. Strange purple alien stuffed toy in the corner; new, but feasibly mine. Ancient oak wardrobe with a wonky door—
At that moment, the purple alien stuffed toy moves. It walks forwards, its three eyes watching me, and I notice it has eight fingers on each hand. I close my eyes, and utter a magical mantra to myself; thisisn’trealthisisn’trealthisisn’treal.
I open my eyes again. And it’s real.
The alien is standing beside my bed, all of three feet high and covered in fluffy fur, like some sort of Ewok that’s been maliciously tie-dyed by hippies. It has no ears that I can see of, and each of its eyes, spaced evenly in its head, are a different colour; one green, one blue, one red. I say the first word which come to mind.
“Wagh!” I utter, as I shoot backwards across my bed, scurrying like a terrified four-legged spider.
Do not be afraid, I hear, though the alien hasn’t opened what I assume to be its mouth. I will not hurt you.
“You’re an alien!”
That is relative.
“And you’re not green or grey! Aliens are supposed to be green or grey!” I realise that I’m pointing at the alien, making wild and hysterical claims, but I don’t care. This one fact I know; aliens are not supposed to be purple. And I cling to that fact as my lifeline.
I could change my external colour if you would feel more comfortable with green, the alien thinks at me, its blue eye blinking slowly.
I laugh, because I’m crazy. I’m talking to an alien, so I must be crazy.
“More comfortable? Do you know what would make me feel more comfortable? Not being abducted from my bed several times a year and not being dumped halfway across the goddamn Earth! And what are you doing in my bedroom?!” Not that I regret the Phoenix poster. She’s hot.
This is not your bedroom. It is a replica of it. I thought it would make the transition easier for you. It has always helped in the past.
“What transition? And what past? I’ve never been here before. I mean, well, I’ve been here, but I’ve never been here. If you know what I mean.” The alien looks at me in what I think may be a curious manner. I can’t blame it. I’m not even sure I know what I mean.
You have questions. You always have questions. Before I answer them, however, I will tell you of our history, because this will answer many of the questions you have, although it will inevitably raise more. It always does.
“I’ll listen,” I say, “but no funny business. I can do karate, you know.”
You attended four lessons when you were nine years old, and quit after you broke your little toe, said the alien, with its weird brain-voice. It didn’t sound particularly impressed.
“How do you know that? Did you download that information from my head?”
Quite the opposite. I uploaded it into your head in the first place.
I blink. “Come again?”
I know of your memories because I am the one who created them. You are not actually a human being; the body you inhabit is merely a shell, and it is not the first shell you have occupied.
I realise I’m not the only one who’s nuts around here. Maybe the little purple alien is high on space rocks, or maybe this is just their M.O. – how they get humans to fall for their lies.
“I’ve heard enough. Send me back home,” I demand.
The alien… sighs. You are home. Come with me, and I’ll show you what I mean.
I don’t trust the alien, but I don’t have many options. I can stay here in this facsimile of my bedroom and stare at my Dark Phoenix poster, or I can follow the purple guy and maybe get some answers. And as much as I enjoy the curvy hotness of the Phoenix, I’ve been looking for answers since I was seventeen. I follow the alien out of my room, or my not-room, whichever it is, and down a long, dark, eerily lit corridor.
We come to a room that reminds me of display-case cavern, only this time it isn’t items displayed, but people. It’s like walking into a cheesy costume store; there’s everything here from Victorian ladies to toga-wearing Romans, from Native Americans to scantily-clad Pygmies.
I shiver in my bunny PJs. Despite the fact that these people seem to be sleeping peacefully, there’s a macabre feel about the whole thing, like I just walked into an alien version of Madame Tussauds. I hate mannequins and their ilk; they give me the heebs.
“What is all this? Did you abduct these people?”
The alien shakes its head and blinks its red eye. These are not people. These are shells. Specifically, they are your shells. You don’t recognise them now, but these are all the people you have been. These are your past lives on Earth.
I stand in front of one; a man with a heavy brow, wearing a fur loincloth and carrying a cudgel. An ancient Neanderthal man. It’s laughable. Ridiculous. It looks like some museum display piece. But as I stand there, a flash of something comes to me; I see a herd of huge, red-furred elephant-like creatures—mammoths, I realise—slowly cross an endless plain of golden dried grass, and I suddenly know what these flashes of visions are.
They’re my memories.