This post is in response to this weeks Flash Fiction Challenge set by Chuck Wendig. This week he asked us to write a flash fiction story that had a dead body in the first paragraph. We had 1000 words. I introduce to you Phoenix. (There is likely to be a few grammatical errors in there – I haven’t had time to fully edit it.)
Silently he lay lifeless, uneven on the asphalt, blood seeping from the slit in his throat. Slowly the blood began to fuse with moisture on the ground and pooling under the body. His face was contorted, his eyes and mouth left open and locked into place. The pain he suffered during the last moments of his life was etched into his expression, as if the violent scenes of his demise were continuously replaying in his mind.
The early signs of decomposition obscured the truth of his recent passing. The colour had noticeably drained from the visible skin of his arms and his face, contrasting with the drying blood that stained his neck and clothing. The first intrepid blowflies began to claim their territory, laying their eggs in his mouth, nose and ears. Even the insects seemed unnerved by the rapid rate of decomposition, making certain that the night’s events would never be fully understood.
Sunlight began to spread across the empty surface of the car park, causing a thin layer of mist as the nights rain evaporated. Bubbles of blood had appeared at the laceration in the neck, as the putrid smell of rotting flesh and organs escaped the now bloated body. Rigor mortis had begun to subside, wiping the pained expression from his face and leaving behind only the emptiness within.
Heat, it began deep in the swollen abdomen of the corpse, smouldering the remains from the inside. His skin darkened as the heat seared through his flesh, perishing his clothes and all evidence that could help identify him. The body retracted as the gaseous contents escaped, causing large flames to build over the body.
The flames flickered unnaturally. At six foot tall, the flames should have dwindled, burning through the fuel quickly and efficiently. The flames sustained there size with no signs of collapsing.
She appeared out of nowhere, stepping through the fire, like a Phoenix climbing out of the ashes of its previous body. Her skin glowing as the light from the flames warmed her naked body. She stood a meter from his scorched remains and stretched her shoulders and neck, like she had just awoken from a sustained sleep. The muscles in her arm flexing into tight biceps. The deceptive vulnerability of her nakedness was a ruse, she was strong and she knew how to hold her own.
The fire subsided as she looked down, captivated by the charred skeleton and ash. She could remember his final moments. They weren’t her memories, but they were just as familiar, and just as vivid. She was horrified by what she had seen while she took his point of view in his memories. His thoughts and emotions played through her, the sadness, hurt and pain he had experienced that night.
The gentle rattle of a vehicle slowing down outside the house, was enough to wake him. He had always been a light sleeper. Conscious of his own safety and never feel completely safe in his surroundings. He slept even lighter since they had both come along. He had always felt it was his body playing tricks on him, torturing him with the fear of being attacked where he slept, after all what was he going to do? He wasn’t a fighter… he had never been in a fight.
There was a click as the door of the vehicle shut, it wasn’t a normal sound and it put him on edge. It sounded like someone was being over cautious, trying to make as little sound as possible.
The footsteps heading for the house were the final straw, he had to go and see who was out there.
He could feel his heart pounding, battering the inside of his chest, almost forcing its way through his ribs. Never had the staircase felt so long, an endless journey to a frightening end. As his foot reached the downstairs carpet, he watched as a man burst through the door. He noticed the bandana the man was wearing and new he wouldn’t make it through the night.
Spinning on the spot he tried to run back up the stairs to warn them, but the intruder was too quick and caught him. A fist to the back of the head left him unconscious.
When he came too he noticed that there were multiple intruders in his house, three to be precise. He was forced to watch as the men beat his wife and child to near death.
His guilt swept over her, colour draining from her face and she was shaking with emotion. She knew the intruders thought this was their retribution. She knew it was punishment caused by him testifying against the gang and silencing any future witnesses. The memory made her sick to the stomach and she daren’t observe anymore, but her curiosity got the better of her.
He was in the back of the van. Sat looking over his wife and daughter who were fighting for every breath. His heart broken, his blood boiling with anger, but it was helpless as he was tightly restrained.
The van stopped again, the men got out they opened the van doors and reached into grab his wife and daughter. He watched them as they stood helplessly fighting for their lives. Two of the men drew their knives and stabbed them. Once would have been enough, but they stabbed them once in the stomach, once in the chest and to finish it off, slit their throats.
His emotions got the better of him, he howled in pain and he passed out, again
They slapped him awake, this time he was stood in an abandoned car park. He looked for his family but he was alone. Immediately, they slit his throat and left him there to die.
She snapped out of the trance and found herself in tears; his emotions had transferred onto her. Realising that she could only view memories from this most recent life, she concluded that this must have been the first time their soul had been through, rebirth. It was up to her to set a president, to show leadership, and show the souls future rebirths how they should look after their own. She turned and walked steadily away from his remains, knowing what she had to do.
(Image Source: http://dragolisco.deviantart.com/art/Phoenix-339917404)