Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the eighty-fourth piece in this series. This week’s is a 983-worder by regular contributor JD Mader. This story will be podcasted in episode 28 (with three other stories) on Sunday 30th June.
It had appeared as if out of nowhere, from a constellation of Vehicles. It was plopped down on a wooden counter covered in white powder. It was a product of alchemy. Revolution. Yeast uprisings often predated the Voyage. It was known to be this way. By some. Some did not believe it. But how could the Vehicle just appear? It was a question of faith. Some believed in the Yeast. Some believed the Vehicle, shaped by the hands of monsters, warm and dusted, covered with oats or bran… nuts… berries, all sorts of adornments… just, well appeared – they could not explain it. Sometimes it was round or flat or square, but not this time. This time is was a mighty oval, aerodynamic and strong, with a stout black shell and drenched in the smell of molasses.The Spores had been organizing their forces for some time; the actual travel had been relatively uneventful. The Trip was nothing new to them…. even if it was their first time. It lived in them, it was part of them, constructed from snippets of legend and whispered stories. A Vehicle did not always present itself. Sometimes they spent their lives circulating, spinning meaninglessly in the air, trapped in Hepa filters to die a slow death… but this, this was the kind of trip they all dreamed of. The Vehicle was large enough that whole tribes could make the journey.
The Voyage had been easy. The Vehicle was slipped into its paper shell. It was not sliced. This caused much rejoicing. But only for a brief time, because the trip began almost immediately.
Darkness and chaos reigned. The Spores were frightened, but brave. They knew not where they would end up, but they knew it was their destiny. They had been plucked out of the air. And that was the adventure…that was faith…they had to believe they would arrive somewhere. And they did have faith. When the jostling stopped, they found themselves in the dark corner of a room like they had never seen before. The walls were white. Everything was white. There was a table covered in a white sheet. Machines blipped and chirped. Monsters were everywhere, some robust and some hacking and coughing… the Spores recognized their handiwork in the hacking coughs. Everything smelled like the death chemicals that the Spores feared the most, but they pushed that fear away. It was fruitless to dwell on it.
Every few minutes a monster dressed in white would come in with another monster – costumed in various colors – and the white one would connect the other to machines that beeped and blinked and they made sounds that the Spores had heard before but did not understand. Occasionally, an older monster – clearly the Patriarch – would enter, holding papers and speaking in clipped sentences to his comrades. He wore a necklace over his white coat. It looped around his neck and hung limply. It was a long tube that ended in a circle. He touched this to the others… he moved the necklace from his neck to his ears. He nodded knowingly. But the Spores paid scant attention… they had work to do. And they knew there was only so much time. This was always a part of the stories. The work. Speed. Cooperation. It would determine if the mission was successful or not.
The room was dry and cold. This made the work more difficult. The Spores craved warmth and moisture. But they were intrepid in their endeavor. They set about to create their civilization with ardor and passion. They sang the anthems of their forefathers. They knew this Vehicle was theirs for the taking. It was time to rise up; the Yeast, if you believe in that kind of thing, had done their part. Now it was up to the Spores. And they would not fail.
Then they heard a booming noise so close to them that it shook them to their core. “Doctor, someone left some groceries in the examination room… you interested?”The monsters circulated all day. They came close to the Vehicle. It made the Spores anxious… almost vibrating with nervous energy. They had to work harder. Faster. If it was true…what they all hoped in the back of their minds, that the Voyage would end at the place… god… if it was true? They had different ideas of what the place would look like. What it would smell like. But there were constants… it would be dark. It would be wet. It would be a place where the Vehicle could finally rest and the spores could reap the rewards of their hard work. But that meant speed. That meant they had to work harder than they ever had in their lives. That meant fighting the arid wasteland they found themselves in… ignoring the smells of the Spore killers even when they were sprayed alarmingly close to their Vehicle.
“No, thanks. You can take them or throw them in the bin out back.”
Then the Spores were in motion again. The lights were dimmed; the Spores looked at what they had created. It would be enough… if only… they felt the Vehicle being lifted. They were moving… outside the room… outside the building! The evening air was cool and damp and the Spores rejoiced. Perhaps it had been true all along. They were traveling quickly and this time there was no paper to block the view. They saw the box. Black and stout. They watched the monster’s hand as it opened the lid. They smelled a wet redemption. And then they were falling. And they found themselves amongst millions of their own. Warm, and moist and growing. The non-believers shook their heads in astonishment as the prothletizers rejoiced. They had reached the promised land. The rank smell of darkness and decay surrounded them and they bowed their heads in thanksgiving. The Vehicle had served them well.
I loved it, but then I always love your stories. Thank you, JD.
JD’s website is http://www.jdmader.com where you can read his stories and much more, and if you’d like to you can email him there too.
He has been fortunate enough to encounter many giving and inspiring people in his life.
He hopes to repay the debt.
And to make enough money with his writing to buy a house.
His first novel Joe Café, second, The Biker, and collaboration ‘Bad Book’ (with Hise and Brooks) are available from Amazon.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here, or up to 5,000 words for critique on my Online Short Story Writing Group (links below).
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