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

The Time of Anarchia

  It is a time of frustration amid conquest, a time for killing bees in order to keep our lawns tidy and clean. A time when citizenship means tainting one's innocence with the complicity of mass suicide. A time when all one can do is wink and think "That's the problem though, isn't it? Thinking about it in the first place,"  a time that is forever escaping us through the collective screen of our forgetfulness, a time to be echoed through the void after its own echoing, a time currently being lost to us all at an accelerating rate we are fundamentally incapable of keeping up with,  a time bound to leave its imprint as yet another layer of electromagnetic radiation which woven into helps define the remainder of creation, in other words a time like any other to come or go before it, a time whose arena becomes the stage of our actions and their consequences here during this primordial moment we managed to capture for ourselves by our very definition, the solitary champions of existence, wallowing in this, the time of our lives, a time of shedding more than skin after we strip our clothes, a time of flensing and dismounting from our sure footed steeds, our bodies we have ridden this time wave upon wave our entire lives from the moment we were conceived, to our Mothers we have continued to occupy and further this time, a time of treasured visions behind the eyes of a dragon, a time of sapphires and tiger pupils held in locked regard, a time of regalia and innocence devoured wholly as in the instance of the anaconda preying upon the star-nosed mole, a time of rapture like any other and of a pain so unique and intense it blurs away altogether among the suturing numbness of the stars, a time to remember who we are and forget who we've become; the universal solvent performs its work on everyone, once upon a time when personality was exterminated in favor of efficiency and convenience, when fear of the dark was bred out along with the heart, where automated drones did not so much as spill a single teardrop over the prospect of the extinction of the bees, where gray skies unleashed radioactive rain upon a new continent of plastic, Anarchia, home for the formerly homeless and disenfranchised splinters of humanity, a time when oceanic travel was outlawed by every nation on Earth and pirates once again roamed the seas, naturally; it was a time for starting over and beginning new stories. 

The Hidden Visitor

Once while I was hiking deep in the Ozark mountains near Eden Falls cave, I spotted an insect that has yet to be classified by entomologists.

The reason for that, is because unlike a dragonfly, this black beauty doesn't have wings affixed to its thorax. The body itself is connected by a hinge which effectively renders it invisible to the naked eye, upon taking flight. It doesn't have a pair of wings; it is a pair of wings. It's about two inches long and deadly as a diamond.

I spotted it lazing upon a fallen log amid a small grove of birch trees alongside the footpath I was following. As I approached nearer, I noticed the weird insect, which resembled a black walking stick at first. I thought it was odd that the grove was completely silent. Suddenly it opened a cobalt blue membrane underneath it just a fraction of a centimeter. I immediately recognized that as a natural warning.

I halted in my tracks and held my breath, so as not to disturb even the air with my intruding presence. I examined the insect's poise and marveled over the deep luminescent aquamarine color which blazed at me from the narrowest slit. I interpreted the message as stating "You may pass through my woodlot, but be warned. This is my domain, and I may exact retribution if you fail to respect it."

I carefully exhaled my pent up breath, bowed my head, then took extreme care to step silently and quickly through the birch trees, ducking so as not to brush against any branches or leaves, as quietly as possible without disturbing a thing.

This miniature hymenoptera had folded it's cobalt membrane shut and allowed me to pass on further up the trail. Half an hour later, when my friend dared to approach the very same grove, he did not fare with half such luck. I sprinted back down the trail in order to warn him to proceed as carefully as I had, to no avail.

I watched as the air before his face crackled with static energy just seconds before he was struck from out of the blue and stung beside his left eye. Immediately afterward the predatory insect vanished as quickly as it had attacked. By the next morning my friend's eyelid had sealed shut and swollen up to the size of an orange.

Later that night, while we camped out among the sprawling constellations of our galaxy, I noticed a strange sight high above the rising sparks of our campfire. All the stars were shimmering with different colors, and right there in one small cluster, I recognized that exact same shade of ultramarine cobalt blue, flickering and twinkling in the deep night sky.

I thought about my small dragon insect friend. I knew then that no entomologist could ever classify such a creature without its permission. Today, I don't wonder where it came from so much as I consider how it was capable of surviving the cold vacuum of space during its migration here.

Leaf Course

I had no idea what I was seeing. Staring through the surface of the still pond created a refractive illusion. I scrutinized the veneer of warped leaves submerged beneath the bracken. Stray beams of sunlight illuminated spores slowly drifting across them. On closer inspection the spores were swimming in unison. I thought of sea monkeys I'd ordered from comic books as a child while I leaned in to get a closer look. Then I realized they featured softly glowing spicules along the sides of their bodies. They resembled mutated infusoria or something. I reached through the surface of the pond water with my left hand and scooped one elm leaf out to study it closer. As the now clear looking water drained off the edges of the leaf and around my fingers to drip back into the pond, I noted the little invertebrates were sliding along just beneath the exterior of the epidermal layer itself. I could see the leaf's split veins amid the vivid green contours, yet these minuscule creatures appeared to be sealed within the upper epidermis layer. I observed in astonishment the tiny denizens of this leaf world.  

Setting this peculiar leaf next to me on the grass, I reached forward and scooped out more fallen leaves. None of them exhibited this remarkable feature. Somehow this startled me even more. It was getting later in the afternoon, and I could hear the sounds of children playing in the distance. I peered back at the first rescued leaf and could still plainly discern the movement of these protozoa-like colonies playing about on the surface, scintillating in the sunlight.  What the hell? All the other leaves seemed normal. I decided to take the strange leaf home, taking care to bring a few of its companions to showcase the difference between them.  I stuffed the normal leaves in my jean's back pocket. They were leaves fallen from a nearby elm tree which looked as if it must've been a thousand years old. I turned my head to the left to examine it. The tree appeared to be kneeling alongside the pond for an eternal drink. 

I never did make it back to the house that day. Somehow on the way I got lost wandering through a section of the park I hadn't really noticed before. There was a foot trail leading away from the pond which I followed until some time later I realized that wasn't the route I normally took to get home. Knowing that direction to be slightly northeast, I didn't worry about the new course, figuring I could re-correct as I emerged from the other side of this grove. Only there wasn't another side. There was just the pathway leading deeper into the woods, which grew thicker and wilder the further I advanced. The familiar sounds of children at play were nowhere to be heard. Starting to get a strange feeling of unease, I decided to turn around and retrace my route back to the pond, and head to my apartment complex the normal way. When I turned about there was no longer a trail leading back.  

This stopped me short for a minute while I pondered how bizarre that was. I was literally standing at the end of the well-worn footpath and gazing into darkly overgrown woods. What the hell? I whipped my head around back toward the direction I had been heading, fearing the path may have vanished in that area as well, but it was still there, leading with gentle curves around and deeper into the forest. Should I force my way through this new growth behind me anyhow and try to get back to the pond? I stared down at the strange leaf in my left hand as if to check for an answer to my dilemma. The leaf was radiating a new green barely brighter than before, and the miniature stream of eerie microorganisms I had perceived were still there, describing a pattern reminiscent of the tracks left by wood worms in bark.  

I observed the flow of these organisms or whatever they were was now synced up to form a closed loop flowing counter-clockwise. "Widdershins..." I thought to myself while listening to the growing quiet settling in around me amid this unexplored portion of the city park near my apartment. Only I felt as if I were as far away from my familiar lodgings as I had ever been, and the thought raised the hairs on my forearms with goosebumps. The twisting course ahead of me seemed to indicate I should follow, so I did. The shining leaf in my hand suddenly appeared to be a weird form of compass. I noticed the cycling protozoa were doing so more rapidly as I walked, and other times they slowed down. Then it dawned on me that it happened every time I took a turn in the pathway. When I veered right, the circling organisms trapped within the leaf's epidermal layer would speed up slightly, and when I began following the foot trail to the left, they slowed down to a crawl. I thought that was very odd.  

I decided to test something. I stepped off the path to the right and the flowing organisms in the luminescent leaf's infrastructure began speeding up remarkably, enough to scare me back onto the trail for some reason I couldn't begin to fathom. The hairs on my arms were raised back up again. I took a deep breath of the musky air, then I stepped off the path to the left, and sure enough those weirdly colored microscopic cultures slowed down to a sluggish pace. I took another couple of steps and they stopped entirely. This made me feel much better. I smiled in the growing shadows of the woods. I glanced over to my right at the path but it was gone. I had finally found my way home.