Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the fortieth piece of flash fiction in this series. This week’s is an 831-worder by Travis Eaton.
The group, collectively known as “the Devils Faithful”, had been waiting an hour for the doctor to speak, eagerly awaiting his approach to the podium. Anticipation in the air, present on the churches recently re-stained pews, the DF were talking amongst themselves when the church shrouded itself in darkness. A hush fell over the crowd, silence enveloped the churches foundations. A few seconds passed, several casting lights focused on its speaker, illuminating their messiah’s presence. A huge canvas, painted black with the group’s initials in red, could be seen in the background, suspended from the ceiling. Dr. Joshua Jennings was standing behind the podium with his eyes closed; arms stretched out in a Jesus Christ pose, his presence, the focus of light.
Dr. Jennings welcomed his brethren, their eyes watching his every move, the show was beginning, and the anticipation from the group could be felt throughout the church. Jennings poured himself a glass of wine from the bottle that was on the podium, saluted the crowd, sculling the entire glass of wine. Wiping his lips, he smiled to the brothers, shuffled his notes and cleared his throat.
‘Awake, arise or be forever fallen,’ the Doctor shouted to the congregation.
A shining red light cast itself on the doctor as he finished the quote from Milton. The congregation, with their heads down and eyes closed, took a deep breath, exhaled, and looked up, as was the ritual on each occasion.
‘Tonight we shed light on a darkness that has been eating at our very cores for a millennia. The depths of which Milton, conveying in a single sentence, was trying to suggest, to our family, is can we still be saved? This question I ask of you gentlemen, can you rise and awaken to everything that is lost?’
Jennings was pacing the stage in a manner of which could be only described as possessive. He took control of his audience by continuously moving around the forum like he was considering these questions for himself, showing concern with each step he took. Unsatisfied with the answers that he was receiving, his spirit possessed by the unruly questions he not only asked of his audience but of himself, he stopped at the right side of the stage.
‘You …there!’ pointing his finger to an unsuspecting participant.
‘Answer me this. Why are you here?’
The man, flushed red cheeks, an air of dishonour, raised himself and looked around at his surroundings.
‘Why are you here?’ the doctor said again.
‘I follow your escort Dr. Jennings. For you have shown not only me the way, but of everything you teach, the flock of which you direct your teachings.’
It was a good answer but not one Jennings was looking for. He shrugged in a modest manner and pointed to the man next to him, asking him the same question.
‘Why Dr. Jennings, we are but your loyal followers, collectively gathering life’s hard questions to answer as a group. Together as one, one might say.’
Jennings took a moment for it to sink in, his mannerisms never showing to the crowd as he considered his followers answer. It seemed to of stumped him, Jennings frozen in silence, contemplating what he may do to respond.
‘What is your name worthy follower?’ the doctor asked.
‘Crimdsten, sir. Frederick Crimdsten.’
‘Crimdsten you say?’
‘Sir?’ Crimdsten replied.
‘Peaceful ruler, be gone!’
Crimdsten fell to the ground holding his chest, letting out a sigh as his last breath held in the air. A sudden murmur held itself over the gathering, the shock present on each members face. Jennings impressed with his powers, slammed his foot on the wooden stage, demanding attention.
‘I will have no peaceful beliefs in this congregation, men. If you ever thought that our gathering was of a mutual respect for the foundations of peaceful belief, then I ask of you to speak up now or forever hold yourself in the flames of dissent. May greed follow your soul and swallow it on consumption. I will not be looked upon as a fake messiah. My personal influence demands respect, as you can see with Crimdsten, I will not be mocked or modestly falsified into a role of which I do not belong.’
Of the members who were surrounding the body of Crimdsten, a few had allowed the lifeless body to lay still in the crowded pew, undisturbed. His eyes black as night, the robe in which he wore slowly disintegrating into an ash, the skin melting into a slush that left a stain on the empty space below his feet, Crimdsten was no more. Once an entity, now a pile of ashes left to their own demise. A fellow member swept the ashes with his right foot under the pew in front of him, proudly looking up at Jennings, smiling.
‘May the soul of the fallen rest in gods arms’? Jennings added with a smirk.
The DF applauded, standing in ovation for the chosen one, Dr. Joshua Jenkins.
Thank you, Travis.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with novelist, essayist, biographer and self-help author Marta Merajver-Kurlat – the four hundred and ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.