by Frank Schnittger
Fri Mar 30th, 2012 at 08:09:41 AM EST
RTE Radio 1 are running a flash fiction competition. I don't read much fiction and write less. I had never even heard of flash fiction which, in this case, is a challenge to write a story in less than 500 words. Even I must be able to do that methought. So here goes below. Attempt #1.
John Kelly was on a journey.
He wasn't quite sure where he was going, or how he was going to get there, but the sensation of travel was unmistakeable. Things would hove into view, hover, change shape, and slowly disappear. The Doppler effect of whines turning to drones was also in evidence, the pitch change proportionate to the speed of passage - although the speed of travel didn't seem to matter. He was getting there.
He wasn't in control of the process, of course, but for once that sense of drifting helplessly through space didn't bother him. He had been there before. He used to refer to them as his black hole episodes: periods in his life when he didn't feel in control of how things were going and he was falling - always falling - into some kind of dark space or black whole from which their appeared to be no escape.
But this time there was no flailing, no scratching around desperately trying to get some purchase on the world around him. No fingertip search. No painful collisions. No hurt withdrawals arising from unpleasant confrontations. No losing battles. Always losing.
This time he seemed to be willing himself on, looking forward to the journey, excited at the prospects, enjoying the experience, happy to go along for the ride. As someone who always liked to have a plan, with goalposts, milestones, key objectives, and risk mitigation strategies, it was a strange but exhilarating experience. There was no one whispering into his ear "Where are you going? What do you think you are doing? Have you thought of the consequences? Just what to you think you are going to achieve with all this effort?"
There was no effort. Whatever it was, it wasn't being driven by him. Winning or losing didn't matter. There wasn't time for all of that; there was no rush. And yet, in a strange way it was just like one of those dreaded black hole experiences. You didn't know where you were, never mind where you were going. All attempts at understanding or control were futile.
But this time there was light. There was brightness. There was colour. There were sounds of nature. There was a sense of going home without having the slightest sense of where or what that home might be. This time, he was travelling through a white hole.
And the strangest thing was that nothing in his "real" life seemed to have changed. His health was more or less the same. His doctor had noticed no change. The same humdrum tasks and jobs filled his day. No special virtue or dream or aspiration was driving him on. There was no particular project he was working on, no achievement he could put down to this particular feeling of exhilaration.
A dark cloud seemed to have vanished and it was sunny all day. The longing was over.