Sideways Rain on
first appeared in The Inner Circle Writers Group Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018 which you can buy from Amazon or Lulu.
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SIDEWAYS RAIN ON CRUELLEST STONE
Sideways rain on cruellest stone – fingers scrabbling for hold as waves crash in over flesh, still raw, still waking. Still cold. Still. Freezing. Raw skin sucking up rain like sponge. Ship crashed on fingers of land – rocks reaching into the deep. No contact. No signal. Mother ship lost. No life on land. No life in soul. Too wet to breathe. Devolution of spirit. Revolution of worlds – galactic loss. Last one in escape pod. Life support failure. Life failed. Life cold, skin raw, soul on stone, on rock. Sky pressing down, hard as stone. Rain like rock.
Lightning flashes lightning sharp. Steel blue flickering across skies. Dark. Broken. Sky breaks. World breaks. Lightning sharp hard and sharp. Hard and fast. Flickering. On and on. I can’t hold on. Hands grapple for hold, fingers searching. Fingers cut and bleeding. Fingers slip. Feet slip. Body slips – skin raw and broken, bleeding. Open wounds. Lightning. Blood to black. Blood on rocks. Scattered. Rain-washed. Clear. Pain holds on. I can’t. I can’t. I slip again. Rock clutched with bleeding fingers. But then – at last – feet find purchase. Feet hold. Foothold. Sky splits again with light, flashing on the water, flashing on the water, flashing on the rock, flashing in my eyes turned up to look. Gods abandoned.
Rocks hurl down on horizon, each burning, blazing, fires of rock. Comets of destruction and despair. Shattered world. Scattered people. Homes burning. The war is lost. List of destruction like apocalyptic instruction. Newsreader intones into the night. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead dead dead. Fleeing into stars. Mother ships cluster, frightened, a herd of spheres dropping into other-space, one by one. Slow. Too slow. Ships shatter. Slow motion burn. Debris hurls like comets, rocks on fire. But for one – screaming in other-space. Screaming: where are you – answer us – please answer us. No reply. No answer. Only one survives. One mother ship. One mother. Weeping for her children.
Memory – mother ship – musical spheres. A link from the one. A link to the other. I remember the spheres. A pebble dropped in a pond. A stone garden carefully raked. Puddles soaking up raindrops. Beach sand edged with last night’s tide. Outward ripples. The music like spheres. Music in great circles, great ripples rippling outward. Notes of perfection that fall through space. Notes like rain that fall and fall. Rain falls. Sideways rain falls. Falls. Falls. Seawater falls. Stings. Pain. Endless pain. Gasping for air, throat rasping, lungs bursting … no. No. No. Memory – music. Please remember the music instead. Please let me hear it as I cling here. Let me hear it instead of the rain, instead of the sea hurling itself at me, instead of the sky thrusting down. Bleeding on rock. Bleeding on cruellest stone. Tears fall. Skin like acid. Music lost. Mother ship lost. Alone alone.
Alone alone. Memory – battleships on space edge. Cluster like dragons. Flashing in. Tails flashing in. Metallic dragons with wings on fire. Flashing in from vortex gates. Silent. Space silent. No sound. No engine-roar. No roar of weapon, of gun, of laser light slicing through the dark. No scream as mother ships shatter, shatter. Glass-glitter in space. Glitter in starlight. Dragons closing up wings, withdrawing tails, shutting down weapons – all is done. Accomplished. Won. All is won. Turn and sweep across dead worlds. We look up. Their bellies are blood. I am a child but I remember. Spiked metallic dragons from hell.
I remember. Memory – growing up in the mountains. I bred sheep. Noses of black, horns curled. I sheared them. Spun wool from fleece. My wife. My children. My life. Clear, cold skies. Mountain peaks suspended in distant sky like a world separate from ours, unventured, unexplored. Flowers in the grass. Cold rain in winter but clearing, always clearing, clearing to cold skies. And fires of warmth. A loving hearth. All lost. I cling. Memory struggles to escape but I cling. I clutch at it. Then I am clinging to rock. Struggle up, forward, collapse. Harsh rock digs into flesh but I am flat. At last. I lie flat. Tremor in limbs. Shiver of cold. Rain lashing. I am so cold.
I look up into the sky, eyes open, pricked with rain but still I look. I look until everything stops: comets, lightning, cruel rain. I look until I am warm. I look until I am dead and in death, I look for everyone I might once have known. I look for my wife. My children. I look for my world. I look but all I see is my body lying on rough rock, my body bleeding and broken, hair plastered to its skull from the constant rain. I don’t know where I am. I don’t where I have crashed. I don’t know this world, if it is peopled, if there is somewhere with sunshine and warmth, flowers and blue sky, trees with blossoms drifting across a valley. Sheep with black noses and curled horns, sheep in the pastures.
In the raging dark sea, the escape pod I took from the mother ship has sunk to a fathomless depth. I stand on the rocks and look out at a realm of wild rock, wilder sea, wildest skies. Everywhere sharp rocks climb from the water, jagged and grey, and when I turn, there is nothing to see again except rock. To see more of this world, I will have to climb that rock … and the next and the next, because that is the way of it. The land is cruel and unforgiving. But if I am to navigate it I need my body, so I climb back into it, thinking perhaps that it isn’t as dead as I’d thought. I lie in it until I feel its cold, its shiver, the pain of its wounds, the pain of its loss. I lie in it and I cry. My wife. My children. My lost life. My world. The way things were before the dragon ships came.
If I am the last one, then I am also the first. If I am alone, then I must begin again. There is no path that leads back, only one that dips through treacherous rock. Beyond the rocks lies the future. I cannot see it. It’s enough that I am alive and trying. I am trying to reach into the future and if it isn’t there, I don’t know it. To live, I need to do more than survive. I need to make this world mine.
Sideways rain on cruellest stone. Life [failed] to be lived.