stay tuned for a temporary flash preview
of my latest foray beyond flash fiction '33 1/3rd rpm'
(2,467 words)
© 2017
by Shaun Lawton

Sick Story Time

Silver Gren Amid the Outer Spheres





Silver Gren ruled the circumferences, which is to say, pretty much everything. From his perch clutching the second finger of my right hand, he drove me into a staring wound many times.

 The shimmery reflections whispered to me, sometimes like a scalpel's quick grin, other times like liquid fire in a silver bullet. Secreting a heated controversy over what's real and planting seeds in my dreams were the least of its concerns, I immediately knew.

 The messages pressed in its leaking steam machine whispers only reached the core of my mind after a long time seeping in. I would stare at the ring's mercurial curves for minutes on end, wondering what lay nestled deep inside that tiny cavity it had for a skull.

The ring was fashioned in a rather ingenious design of a simple frog motif. A head with two tiny lumps for eyes; a tortoise-like open mouth in which only shadow could be discerned, hind legs formed to sculpt into the perfect circle of the ring itself, made of silver.

 When worn, it gave the appearance that the little tree frog was hugging onto your finger. I wasn't too sure about the skull. More likely it was a relay-icon built of supremely fibrillated and folded-in nanowiring, containing within its small frog-shaped dimension all the circuitry needed for an instrument more powerful than any supercomputer I'd known.

 As it lay dormant upon my finger, possibly sealed in some alien dreaming, I began to ponder how much it depended on me having just recovered it off the bar room floor, where presumably it had inadvertently slipped off some former customer's finger.

It had been lying on the dusty floor at a canted angle when I leaned down to pick it up. The first thing I remember is that it bit me after I put it on my finger.

 This happened in the early afternoon, and there was nobody else in the bar except for the bartender, a skinny goth chick in black leather pants and turtleneck.

 She had a scar across her left eyebrow that slashed diagonally upward, as if the knife blade that granted it had been flicked viciously. It accented the natural set of her left eye as she stared at me.

"Can I get you something?" She asked as if it never would have occurred to me.

I tried my best to appear not to ignore nor acknowledge her, stating "Yaeger shot" deadpan.

She reached for the green bottle, and generously poured my shot to the rim.

I tossed it back. She had the greenest eyes I'd ever seen. "Another."

Repeat aforementioned cycle. Yep. Still the greenest eyes I'd ever seen.

This certainly interested me, but I tried not to show it. I was still thinking about the ring I had just found. Maybe it was hers. It was already on the second finger of my right hand.

Perhaps she'd notice it. I couldn't believe how the ring seemed to have bitten me, after I put it on my finger. When I first put it on, I reached over with my right hand to hitch my left sleeve further up to the wrist. 

To all outward appearances, one of the ring's rigidly extended fore-arms snagged the pale skin of my wrist. I still have the curiously small scar, like a tiny otter's twisted moonclaw print.

I kept waiting for the bar girl to recognize the silver frog ring on my finger, while at the same time thinking the ring must take with it it's prior host's memory of it.

 She was about to pour me a third shot of Jaeger when I indicated with my left index finger that No, I'd prefer a beer from the draught.

"First Amendment," I said and she poured me a cold frothy tall one.

I gratefully sipped from the rim, sucking most of the foam off the surface and relishing the cold, hopped up flavors and fizzy carbonation.

 My mind wandered back to the ring's previous owner. Assuming they had similar-sized fingers to mine, there've been many instances when during a particularly cold, dry afternoon...the fingers of my hand contract just enough to let a ring slip off, sometimes so obliquely as to be scarcely even noticed. 

Perhaps that is exactly what occurred to the previous wearer of the ring. I began feeling more certain of it, and resolved to bear the ring upon my finger openly, to give it a fair enough shot at being found.

 Of course I could meet this person and they might even notice and admire the curious handiwork of the ring's design, not even for a moment suspecting they themselves had ever worn it.

I drank the remaining dregs of the microbrew and pushed the glass forward two inches, by means of asking for another. The bartender and I were on the same wordless wavelength. She slowly poured me another.

One thought in particular kept rising up in my mind while I meditated there at the bar. It swam up before my mind's eye with startling suddenness.

 Like a dream of darkness, firstly. And secondly, it was like a realm without sound. Really, it was a realm of sounds in quite a different octave many levels below that which we are used to hearing.

It was a region of enormous calm and supreme quiet, transcending the dark. As if disallowing it to take shape.

The sound seemed comprised of far-reaching distillations of pings and tones somewhat akin to the overhead view of a starry night, only in a sense very much like an audial array of constellations.

 There was also a lurking presentiment in this strange void of sight and echoed sounds, as if a certain swift deliverance of a leviathanesque nature charged every possibility.

I almost felt as if I were venturing too far out into deep waters, with every passing moment. I looked down at the ring, and saw it regarding me from a tilted angle, as if not about to let me out of its baleful sight. I pushed a twenty dollar bill across the counter toward the bartender.

"Keep the change."

Silver Gren led the way out of the bar, as if something incredible far away was reeling it in on an infinitely thin invisible fishing line. I could feel it tugging against my finger as it led us up the stairs and out onto the cold windy street.

 There was an unseen line of tension leading up the sidewalk, pulling me without question in a particular direction. Putting my hands in my pockets did nothing to alter the ring's sensitivity.

 We were lured along for several blocks in the direction of the old Chylde Manor building, abandoned and left derelict for the last twenty-six years.

As I suspected, when it loomed out of the darkness ahead of us, a great chipped and flaking bulk of ruined shadow with a gaping, hangar sized entrance, the ring pulled off the sidewalk and straight towards the broken building.

 I had no choice but to follow.

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