Tuesday 9 October 2018

Dark Fiction - River

Dark Fiction - River

By Casey Douglass

River by Casey Douglass

The first body floated past the town. It went unnoticed, soon lost around the gurgling bend.
The  second passed early the next morning and was spied by a fisherman. A host left the town, tracking the river in the hopes of retrieving the unfortunate soul. While these were away, a third body became entangled in the small jetty, the place where the children liked to sit and dangle their small feet into the gentle current.

More bodies appeared with every turning of the clock, the small warehouse behind the main-street soon turned into a makeshift morgue. Word had been sent for the coroner, but he was hundreds of miles away. Amateur sleuths tried their hand at deduction, many thrown off by the injuries that the bodies had endured during their watery journey. One person guessed right, and then the others saw it too: Suicide.

Crosses were sketched in the air with shaking fingers, tears shed for people not known, and tongues clucked about the state of the world.

The coroner didn't come.

A traveller did.

She walked into town with her garish clothes and laptop bag swinging from her shoulder. No one approached her, a state of affairs that always arose when people from the sinful world entered their haven. Broaching no games, she strode up to the mayor and showed him something on the glowing device in her hand.

A friendly alien invasion had taken place.

The town's folk didn't comprehend, but a meeting was called, and the traveller explained more, her gesticulations and enthusiasm at odds with the statue-like audience. It was a time of revelation, she said. They made us, she crooned. They’ve come back to elevate us to our full potential she gushed.
She moved on the next day, the town stifling in its silence. Even the dogs and chickens held their tongues. Minds weighed with doubt turned their thoughts to the towns upstream, the places the bodies had flowed from. Good places, pure. God-fearing.

The first suicide in the town came the next night, but no one saw as the body splashed into the river. The next was caught in the nick of time, the noose pulled slack with sweating fingers as colour returned to the skin.

A mass was called, the sermon reaching the ears of the shaking townsfolk. Suicide is a sin, and not the way to show your love for God!
A voice shouted that God didn’t make us!
Another yelled that he did, that Satan had come!
A third bellowed the query of who made the aliens? God of course!
The pressure cooker of debate smashed together the tidbits of belief and desire, until the township came to the decision to merely conduct themselves as before, observing their prayers to the Lord, and showing that their faith was strong enough to meet this challenge, whatever it may be.

The aliens did elevate humanity, a little bit each day, until hundreds of years later, humans roamed the stars with their new allies, their makers, dancing in the light of super-novae, skimming black holes, and enjoying a life without boundaries.

A taint pursued them though.

However far they went, whichever star they orbited, some were dogged by the phantom of a bygone age, by the thought of an unseen power whose hand stretched towards them wherever they might rest. These people withheld their awe, suppressed their wonder, and waited for the lash to fall, the lash of a whip that transcended space and time.