404 – A piece of morbid flash fiction

Reading Time: 3 minutes


A piece of morbid flash fiction.

By Jenny K Brennan 2014

Listen to Billy tell the story in the October madness episode of the Studio Chaotic podcast Released October 7th 2014.

Is it dead yet?
You consider lying. You try on a couple of words that might fit. Puffing your lips, rolling your eyes skyward as you think about it. You consider googling for synonyms of “no” that would make it feel like less of a lie. A quick googling for things that could possibly but more likely never be of any use was a good practice. Such a wonderful way to procrastinate. Procrastinate? Adjourn, postpone, reschedule. Is that all there is? You google “procrastinate” and defer the delaying of putting off the suspension of life any further.

No, lying wouldn’t do it. The thing is truly dying. Or already dead. Who knows these things anyways.

But as realizations go, it couldn’t be any more immediate. It was in fact a knowledge that had come to you over time through endless suffocating spans of expectant seconds, minutes, maybe even years of swimming through sludge. Pile after pile of the stuff, come to think of it. You always knew the day would come. Hoping it would pass by; the reality of the end.

The thing that is going to die flail’s and thrashes in a bloody puddle on the floor. It can’t get air despite so much oxygen lying all around it in exhausted heaps. As things go, of course they are just perfectly placed out of reach. Fancy that. When failing to beseech the machine, the thing crawls through the slippery dirty muck that used to be its life, falls over on its side and starts scraping at its face with hands that are sometimes deformed claws and sometimes little more than ghostly tendrils of sickly bitter smoke. Again and again, ripping old scabs, fresh white scarring, shredding them open. If it could just die. Just die already.

Violent seizures grip the thing. They let up and then attack again with little time for reprieve. The thing lie on its back and seemingly disjointed limbs slam into the hardwood floor. Bone barely covered by raw flesh pound the unyielding wood, never missing a beat all through the spastic measures. In-between spasms, a chattering and a breathless sizzle filled the throbbing silence.

That beat actually has a rhythm. You think dreamily and try to find it with the side of one thumb and a #2 pencil.

The thing gasps. Immediately it sucks in all the air in greedy gulps harmonized with whimpers of relief. Harsh ragged breaths calm the body and the thing rolls over on its other side, panting slowly. It extends a trembling hand towards the machine and clicks. And clicks. It will be alright now. Wide hopeful eyes search the machine for solace, for a reaction, for something. But the machine heaves a forgetful sigh and turns away. Without pity it chokes its connections, breaks its workflow, and allows connected bits to come as they please. What does it care? The machine doesn’t worry over whether the thing has time to find what it needs before cutting off the world once more. Maybe the broken thing on the floor is already dead, pallid and panting in a growing slippery stain of its exposed viscera. Guts and organs glistening while cooling quickly in the glimmering light of the screen. Yes, it is dead, had been a slowly rotting corpse for a long time now. And that realization, as realizations go, is a mother fucker of a kick in the head. It had been there for some time. But denial is a powerful thing.

Powerful indeed, you ponder with your finger hovering over the faded keys. You google the word “Cat” along with the word “viscera” and immediately regret it. The thing on the floor moans and coughs up pieces of broken glass, a used condom, and a couple of four gig SD memory cards.

You quickly forget the dead thing on the floor with its unsavory chucking up of gore and other artifacts. It was after all just a thing. A thing that comes and goes, leaving its sticky handprints all over you in the moments when it has the strength to rise and approach you. Probing gently, viciously groping at unborn fancies. Its comforting caress a teasing fleeting whisper of chaos and quietly constructed melodies that has never been there before. It leaves its morbid taint of colors and words with no clear chain of command. It leaves its sprinkling of jumbled instructions.

Assemble this. Make of it what you will.

But dead things don’t provide feedback. Nor does it speak of the manner in which it would help if it could.

Because at this moment; perhaps not ad infinitum, perhaps not for a moment longer than it takes for that breath of yours to settle down, the thing is very much dead.

The machine killed the muse.

With a prompt to check your connection, and with cold disregard for assured efficiency, it will kill again.

And again. And again, and again.

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