“Fiction In A Flash Challenge” Week #12 NEW Image Prompt. @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

Hi everyone!

I hope you’ve had a good week. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the weekend. My muse developed a very weird mood today, and I have a bit of flash fiction for you, entitled The Dead Hour.

The image prompt comes from Soooz’s blog: https://sooozburkeauthor.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/fiction-in-a-flash-challenge-week-12-new-image-prompt-pursoot-iartg-asmsg-writingcommunity/

 

bryce-barker-cIcX_aO9LPo-unsplash

The Dead Hour

 

The station clock. Stuck. Seven minutes to midnight.

And bang … I’m awake again. Same time. Every. Single. Night.

I need sleep. Without the glorious restorative powers of deep slumber, you can’t hold me responsible.

 

Even in the glare of these harsh fluorescents, my eyes remember the comforting soft glow of the olde-world clock—the promise of simpler days. A kinder era. I’m a girl born way behind my time. Would that I could go back.

 

I have FFI, so I’m dead already. I know that. Fatal Familial Insomnia is no joke. But my life still matters. I still matter. Don’t I?

 

I’m down to a mere 30 minutes of rest in every 24 hours. Each day sees my brief period of respite fall by a minute more. Tomorrow, I’ll achieve only 29 minutes. No matter when I lay my head down to sleep, and regardless of how long I go under for, I always awaken at seven minutes to midnight. What have you done to me?

 

You promised you would help.

 

Already, my eyesight fails me. My memory too. What will I lose next? By now, we can’t call it sleep. Not really. Always, I’m aware of the lights. The torturous ticking of the clock. Even with all your drugs, you’ve lost all control over me. Can you not see that?

 

Three burly men slam open the door, burst in, and hold me down. By now, I’m used to such rough attention. How often do I have to lay here, passive and unresistive, before you trust me? I hold my breath. Wait. Here he comes. The fourth guy, wearing a full hazmat suit, complete with sealed helmet. An elephant-sized syringe gleams silver in the white, sterile space. Idly, I watch as needle pierces flesh and plunger plunges. The vile goober empties into my veins.

 

Nobody speaks. Not one word. Eerie, this silent dance we perform each and every night. Always as the clock strikes twelve. The new dead hour. Like you, I used to believe that the dead hour fell between 3 and 4 am, when most people are apt to die in their sleep. Also the time when folks slumber deepest. Hah. The irony.

 

The days pass.

 

28 minutes

27 minutes

26

25

10 minutes

9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …

 

The station clock. Stuck. Seven minutes to midnight.

And bang … I’m awake again. Same time. Every. Single. Night.

I need sleep. You can’t hold me responsible.

 

How can you have just one-minute’s worth of sleep? Preposterous. And yet here we are. Again.

 

Tonight is different, though. All these nights, you’ve believed I’ve suffered hallucinations. They’re real, I tell you. I have precisely seven minutes before the goons give me the needle. Sixty seconds before the big hand moves onto six minutes. I have to make every second count.

 

Are you with me?

 

Or are you against me?

 

The silence terrifies my withered body. Did I get it wrong?

 

Resolute, I close my eyes and slow my heart to beat in time with each tick, tick, tick.

 

The amber glow from the olde-world station clock comforts, beckons, and offers escape from this nightmare. With long-practiced ease, I swallow my tongue. My best hope is that you’ll believe I died trapped in this shallow shell of flesh and blood and bones.

 

I know better.

 

The clock. Seven minutes to midnight. My doorway from this house of horrors. My soul soars.

 

In the station, a crowd awaits me. When I land, their applause deafens. Now I know why only my bed was occupied. Why the other fifty lie empty. All your failures are here. With me. Angry.

 

Contrary to what you thought, our sleep deprivation enhanced our powers instead of destroying them. Fire dances across my fingertips. Nerves tingle. Three seconds left.

 

My insomnia, and your cruel treatment, have left me devoid of the compassion you might once have expected from this gentle soul that was I. When you’ve stripped everything away, what’s left?

 

I turn and face the portal. Before it can close, I throw my flames of fury into the lab. Around me, my fellow victims do the same.

 

Two seconds.

 

We stand and watch it all burn.

 

One second.

 

It’s six minutes to midnight, and I’m free.

 

Copyright ©Harmony Kent 2020


I hope you enjoyed this bit of fun, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’d like to take part, here’s the link again: https://sooozburkeauthor.wordpress.com/2020/08/07/fiction-in-a-flash-challenge-week-12-new-image-prompt-pursoot-iartg-asmsg-writingcommunity/

Here are the rules:

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment on Soooz’s blog or email it to her at her email address. by DEADLINE: 4pm EDT on Thursday, August 13th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to Soooz’s blog page would be much appreciated.

She will be sharing all entries received, and, her own contribution on her blog beginning on Friday, August 14th.

Here is the week #12 Image Prompt.

Thanks to Bryce Barker for sharing their FREE IMAGE on Unsplash.

Photo by Bryce Barker on Unsplash

We hope the image inspires you! Come and join in the fun.

Find Soooz at …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

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Miriam Hurdle

I was holding my breath all the way through, Harmony! Great dark suspense. Loved it.

Staci Troilo

This one had me racing to the end. First person really did it justice. Nicely done.

Soooz

You nailed it with this one, Harmony! 👍

Toni Pike

Awesome, Harmony – amazing suspense. Toni x

Jan Sikes

Wow, Harmony! This one gave me shivers. I had no idea how it was going to end. Well-done! A visit to the dark side!

D.L. Finn

I had no idea where this was going…which I appreciate. Loved it, want to know more:)

Soooz

Wow! What a rivetting piece of writing, Harmony! Bravo! You nailed the dark suspense in this one. I’m looking forward to featuring it on my blog next week. Thanks again for entering! 😊

Soooz

And I’m soooo modest with it! 😂

Priscilla Bettis

Good one! I love how you used the prompt. I’ll be staring at the clock when I try to go to sleep tonight.:-)

Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Wow, this certainly packs a punch, Harmony.

Jacquie Biggar

Wow, Harmony, I’m never going to look at my clock the same way again, lol. Strong writing. This packs a punch 🙂

John howell

Whoa, Harmony. That was some ride. Thanks. I’m glad I didn’t wait until bedtime to read this. 😁

Yvette M Calleiro

You completely sucked me in with that one. Great job, Harmony! 🙂

Marcia Meara

Really shivery stuff, Harmony! Loved it! One of these days, maybe I’ll give this a try, but I’m still too far behind to do so now. Thankfully, I have you and Mae and others I can be inspired by. Nice job! 🙂

Mae Clair

Oooh, well done, Harmony! You know I’m a fan of off the wall and weird, LOL. I thought this was outstanding!

CS Boyack

Great stuff today.

Gwen Plano

Great writing, Harmony. The suspense was palpable. Station clocks–who knew? 🙂

Michele Jones

Makes you think.