Friday, August 8, 2014

Flash Fiction: Excerpt from Harbinger of the Wrath

Whoever said that flash fiction was good for the soul was definitely on to something.  It's led me to look back at some older projects that I've shelved for various reasons.  What follows is from a science fiction novel that I've been tinkering since my junior year in college (circa 1999).  I've gone back, made a few adjustments and polished out a couple of rust stains.  I might just take this one off of the shelf and start playing around with it again.  

Excerpt from "Harbinger of the Wrath" (working title)

The priest stood in the doorway, framed by the blue-white light from the solitary light source in the corridor outside. He held the auto-pistol in his right hand, periodically flexing his last three fingers open and closed. The air continued to grow so thick that the priest inwardly swore that he saw the shadows inside the room flutter and move. 

“Forgive me my trespasses and those who trespass against me, Lord. They know not what they do. Grant me your strength to do what must be done and save this poor soul before you come claim her.” The priest whispered to himself and took a single step forward as he steeled himself for what was to come. He waited for her to stir or give some sign that she was still alive. Finally, the priest kneeled upon both knees, sitting forward to keep the ache from setting into his calves. He held the auto-pistol in his lap and braced himself with his free hand. 

“I know you’re awake, Janelle. Just because I’m a priest that doesn’t mean I can’t tell when someone’s trying to play me for a fool.” He said in a low, hoarse voice that did not startle the woman. When her eyes did flutter open, there was little more than bitterness and rage behind them. 

“Priest?” Janelle shot back. The unguarded quiver in the woman’s voice betrayed the rage that seethed within. 

“Nothing has changed Janelle. I am still the same Father…” The priest’s voice rose in volume and was still hoarse and dry, but now it was lined with a gentle edge that was almost pleading.

“No!” She interrupted, shouting at the top of her lungs. “No you’re not! You’re no priest. Priests don’t go murdering people!” 

“Sinners, Janelle. They were all sinners. There was no hope of salvation for them.” The priest shot back in frustration. “Worse, they dared to try and stand in the way of God’s plan. Hence, why he unleashed the plague on the colony and probably…” 

“It was a biological attack!” Janelle cut him off again. “No natural disease can kill someone in three hours. This isn’t God, it’s the Republic launching its counteroffensive to kick-start the Unification War all over again. Jesus Christ I can’t believe…” 

“Don’t! Don’t you dare, don’t you dare!” Spittle flew from his lips and coated the side of the woman’s face and the cold metal barrel of the auto-pistol which was now viciously pressed against the side of her head. “Never take His name in vain! Never, do you hear me! Never!” 

“Because once it starts, I can’t stop them,” his voice lowered to a whimper. “…I can’t stop them from coming for your soul. Once it starts…has started. Don’t you see?” He repeated more quietly as he panted and fought for breath. Eventually he became aware that he had grabbed hold of her hair with his other hand. As he slowed his breathing, the priest began to let go of her. He kept the auto-pistol pointed at her head as he backed away and stood up.

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