Flash Fiction: Cold, Blinding Light
Thanks to Rachelle O’Neill for organising this flash fiction challenge! Sorry I am late in posting my story. Thanks as well to Athelas Hale for giving me my prompt: as instructed, I will write a story inspired by the visual below.
Flashes of light. Cold, blinding light. It explodes around me. Shoves its way through my scrunched up eyelashes. Fills me with numb terror.
Where am I, that this light is assaulting me? My brain throbs and my body aches, but I don’t know why I am here. How did I come to be at the light’s mercy, shelterless and alone?
I stretch out my hands: my knuckles rub against a hard, cold surface. The same surface juts into my spine; it protrudes against my shoulder-blades and skull. I lie on the surface, exposed. I feel naked — I am at the light’s mercy. It pummels me in its fury; it thunders and it roars. There is nothing to come between us, to shelter me from it.
A hazy image emerges in my throbbing brain. A distant memory? I am in a fire-fight. I am shooting against a horde of enemies, outnumbered and outgunned. But in the midst of it all, beside me is a friend. Together, we fire at them. Together, we have shelter.
The image fades. I am not in a fire-fight. I have no friend with whom I can find shelter. I am alone, exposed, facing the angry light.
There is a gap in the light. Relief floods me. Is this the end? But as my terror lulls, I become aware of the wetness. Wetness on the cold, hard surface — the ground. Wetness in my hair as it lies limp across my face. Drops of cold wetness falling on my nose and lips. I turn, and lay my cheek against the cold, hard, wet ground.
The light explodes again, as suddenly as it ceased. This time, it allies with the wetness. The sodden ground explodes too, echoing the great light.
I begin to tremble. I shiver uncontrollably. How can I remain here? How can I survive against the light and the wet? I need a shelter. Something to come between me and the light’s fury.
Then I sense it: a warm, dark shape. Can it be real, or is it a good dream?
The shape moves slowly over me. Slowly, it blots out the scorching light. Slowly, it makes the thundering of the light cease.
What is the shape? It seems like a friend. It exudes warmth, and shelter and darkness. The shape plays about my cheeks like warm breath. It seems to shield me from the cold drops of wetness falling on my face.
I try to reach for the shape, but my hands are leaden. I groan in despair. But then, suddenly, there is gentle pressure on my wrists. Is the shape bearing down on them. Is this shape a physical thing? Could it be a person — an actual friend?
Words seem to float from the shape. They waft down toward me.
“We need you,” breathes the shape. “I need you.”
A drop falls on my lips. But it is not a cold drop — it is warm, and tastes dark. It tastes salty. It must be a drop from the shape.
How strange that the shape should say that it needs me. For clearly, I am the one who needs the shape. I need its warmth and its protection. I need its darkness and its friendship. I don’t know where I am, but with the shape there, it doesn’t matter. I am no longer entirely at the mercy of the light.
The warm, dark shape is my defence — my shelter. My shelter from the cold, blinding light.