The air was thicker here somehow, Ashly tried to think rationally. Pain lanced through his body and he knew another one of him had died. Obliterated, gone and lost forever, no relief that it wasn’t him just the dull ach that it always left. How long? How long now had he been living this nightmare?

He looked at his hands, so thin from lack of food, skeletal, maybe he was nothing more than an amimated corpse these days. The too thick air seemed to shift over him his hand grew bigger in the strange lensing effect that had originally given him motion sickness. But that had been when he first arrived. He was so tired now, the will to continue was flagging, he was too numb to cry there was just a numbness where his feelings should have been. He lifted his leg slowely, it was such an effort, like it weighed more than the rest of him. The thick air clogged his lungs making him breath all the more erratically.

One step at a time, that’s all he had to focus on and the only mission he had left, one step at a time. Its was all he could manage in any case.

How big was this place? He had been pondering that one for a long time, something kept nagging at him but he couldn’t grasp hold of what ever it was. He was sure he was mad, this had to be some sort of delusion brought on by post traumatic stress but that didn’t really help did it? Even if it was a delusion he couldn’t wake up from it and had to live all the trials maybe if he passed the test he would awake in a hospital somewhere… somewhere safe.

A mental ward, hell even a prision seemed like heaven to him. Ashley shivered as the air begain to crystalis out around him, wronge he though but couldn’t think. He ducked out of the cloud of sharp needles that had grown, they where ice, he had only narrowly escaped them on that first day – the air would just suddenly starts to turn into little needles of ice. He thought on it, thought of the could it always brought, well of course it was ice wasn’t it? Something was wronge with that, he knew it but couldn’t place it.

A small red bubble floated slowely past his face in a gentle upward dance as if on thermals invisible to the eye. ‘Shit!’ he followed a trial of smaller red spheres to the cut on his leg, he hadn’t got out of the thick air quick enough, it was only a small cut though but with little food and virtually no sleep any cut tended to keep bleeding. The fog of ice smothered air cleared as he ripped another stip of his tattered green jump suit, he attended the cut in a clinicially detatched way. He was so physically numb now that it didn’t hurt anyway.

He looked around him in this moment of clarity, the walls where visible. The walls! Where they always walls? He wasn’t sure, he really wasn’t but he thought that they had been something else last time he saw them, what? Asked his mind sonically. He trembled with lack of sugur, his vision swum before him, the walls where so old, and yet they looked so like those he had travelled through to get to college, then to work. There was even remnants of graffiti covered in brown slim stagligtites. His brain refused the conclusions that it found. Logic fell to pieces. All his knowledge, all the physics, all the chemistry, it all equated to nothing here. Where was here anyway?

He jumped, the screaming had started again, ratterling around him, some how he was a part of this scream, it was carried on by his physical form, he felt the pressure of the sound wave, felt himself relocate whist somehow not moving, his mind jurked and he fell heavily to the ground.

A cloud of fine grey ash plummed up around him making him cough and splutter. The ash was gritty in his mouth and this he knew to be wronge too. He sat up hunked back on one heel, something had glinted in the grey dullness. He raked his fingers through it hating the dry feeling it engendered in his fingers, how the the ash caked to his skin sucking out any moisture. He coughed again and little droplets of spittle landed in the greyness the ash clunging to the outside of the little liquid spheres.

Ashley’s brian screamed in defience of the inconcistantcy with the blood drops floating away. His fingers caught something, the fragile gold chain the links too small and too high a purity of gold, they where neated on his fingers, his heart thumped heavily in his chest, he knew this chain. To fragile a thing, he had said that once hadn’t he?

Booming thunder seem to render any thought impossible but still he raked the ash for the locket he knew must be there. The locket, please god don’t let me find it, not here, not now, was his only coherent thought.

Time shuddered and the ash begain to rise around him suffocating him Ashly scrambled to his feet, the chain gasped tightly who knew what this ment but the realisation was too much for him.

‘Annabell!’ he chocked into the suffocating ash.

His Annabell, his love and the lockette she’d chosen – there had been a fire? Hadn’t there, a fire and ash, ashy ruins rising to consume him. Racking through their home, they said she might not have been home -the lockette.

He looked at the neckless gritt scoured his eyes away, the hells opened before him, memory fleeting, insurance claims can go very wrong. The argument – she’d found out and gone home to save it – hadn’t she?

‘Annabell,’ he screamed chocking and drowning in bubbles of ash.

Posted: Thursday, August 18th, 2011 @ 6:25 pm
Categories: Flash Fiction.
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