I’ve got a new flash fiction story here for you. This is another response to a Chuck Wendig Friday Flash Fiction Challenge. He provided a list of 10 words and we had to choose 5. They weren’t just to appear as words in the story but to become five elements of the story. I chose the words library, undertaker, cube, envelope and storm.
The result makes me want to run out and watch a David Lynch movie. If that’s the sort of vibe you like then perhaps you’ll enjoy a story of
The Day The Undertaker Came
The Undertaker came to The Library at the beginning of the end. He came to prepare us, though we didn’t know it at the time. He wore sable robes that swallowed light and dimmed the corridors as he walked through them. If he had a face we never saw it; he kept his hood pulled high and forward like an opaque veil.
I don’t know how he could see, but he seemed to know where he was going and plodded though our halls without hesitation.
We trailed along behind; I don’t think we could have freed ourselves from his wake if we wanted to. Soon I had a premonition of sorts and I knew where he was going.
The cube waited in our central reading room. A curiosity, nothing more, the ornate box looked like silver, but had been undamageable, and unopenable since the day it was found. When science had grown tired of trying to understand it it had become nothing more than an interesting piece of art, a strange oddity to be pondered and gawked at.
After it found its home with us some people would travel here only to see the cube. Others considered it an interesting side benefit to visiting the library for the more expected reasons. Whatever they may have thought before encountering it I don’t think anyone who came into sight of it ever dismissed it as unworthy of consideration. In fact, we kept it in the great reading room because it demanded attention. It was the perfect thing to draw a readers eyes when they took a break to roll a new idea around in their head and feel the texture of its possibilities.
When The Undertaker entered the room The Cube had it’s first ever competition for attention. For his part, The Undertaker continued forward at his same pace until he stood directly before it. I don’t know what anyone expected to happen next, but I felt close to terror. I couldn’t have told you why right then, but I was afraid. If passing along the wisdom of lessons learned still held any point I would tell people to always trust their instincts.
The Undertaker stood in front of the cube and raised one robe-wrapped hand to it. When that unnervingly black cloth brushed the cube an entire side dissolved before our eyes. Within The Cube, a box that had never been opened before, we saw the Earth. Not a globe. Not a picture. But Earth. Rotating in the darkness of space. In The Cube.
From a pocket of his robe The Undertaker drew an envelope and what looked like a letter. It was a regular letter-sized envelope, but it’s whiteness hurt to look at in contrast with the black robes. He turned to a table beside him, picked up a pen and began writing on the envelope in an alphabet I could not read and had never seen. When he finished, he put the letter inside and sealed it. Then he turned back to The Cube and flicked the envelope toward the Earth. It spun round and round, but when it crossed the plane of The Cube’s now missing side it transformed into a bird. The bird was made of paper still, like origami, but it flapped it’s wings and flew, somewhat lazily, toward the Earth.
We watched as it hit the atmosphere and caught fire. As the bird burned before our eyes inside The Cube, all the light streaming in from the library’s windows turned orange, as if a great fireball had passed overhead.
When that paper envelope bird caught fire I felt something stir in my mind. By the time it had been consumed completely I, as well as everyone else on Earth, knew our time was up. There was a storm coming. A great front of teeming chaos and entropy. Pure destruction, and it left nothing in it’s wake. His message delivered, The Undertaker turned and began to leave in his plodding manner.
I was sure then that no man hid beneath those robes. This was an emissary, a piece of the oncoming storm, sent as herald. In the cube we could see the teeming front of pure destruction approaching the Earth-in-a-box that was truly our own home that we stood upon at the same moment. It will be here soon, and I’m confident nothing can be done, but I wanted to tell you – I thought you should know. I didn’t just receive the message as everyone did. I was there when it was sent and I saw it all with my own two eyes, just as I’ve told you. You’re not crazy and it is not a hoax or mass delirium as some would have us believe.
The storm is coming. Even now you could go to The Library and see just how close it is. Inside The Cube the storm front will soon kiss the earth. Then the end will really begin. Those are the facts, though I don’t know what to do with them. Some want to give in and hurry their own end, others think we should strive to fight. To push back against the forces of ending by becoming forces for new beginnings. Create in the face of entropy and hurl effort against futility.
Will it save us? I don’t know. Something tells me it won’t. But I see no reason to hasten our enemy’s victory either. We have choices to make before the storm arrives. What will yours be?
Comments always welcome and appreciated. Feel free to poke around and see what else is going on around here too. Comments on old stories are equally welcome.