The Universe Engineer

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 The World of My Imagination’s Photo-Prompt Flash Fiction Challenge.

Submissions must be 500 words or less,  and feature the picture and all five words: Spider, Race, Machine, Muscle, & Engineer.

My submission…

 

THE UNIVERSE ENGINEER

In the night the giant, ungainly spider moves.  On malformed legs propelled through dense forest slow.  Rustle of living leaves above.  Crackling of the dead below.

Whisper of westerly wind.  A soft earthly sigh.  With deliberate strides it journeys under branch, leaf, and vine that hides the moon and sky.

A second accursed of spider race now strides abreast the first in midnight’s dark.  Third and fourth shambling arachnids join in time.  As hidden moon ends celestial arc.

Misshapen, mutant spiders all.  A hundred years through forest nights they tramp.  Canopy above shakes from passing.  Leaves fall in darkness like dying bats.

Three younger, less warped walkers find first four at pre-dawn’s hour.  Smaller these be.  Lighter of leg.  Yet, command not the old ones’ power.

Truth revealed in morning’s light.  Sun breaches forest canopy.   No spiders things these walkers.  The legs are roots.  The dark hid trunks of ancient Dryad trees.

These Dryads, this mystic race, a pool they find that Eternal glistens.  Roots bring them near water’s edge.  Silent.  Still. With leaf and branch, bark and gnarl they listen.

The heat, light, and life.  First day’s sun rays calm waters feel.  Then shimmer.  Now hum.  As the Great Machine, with primal gears, turns the cosmic wheel.

Brilliant beam of pure white radiance.  From Void, through space, then stratosphere.  To center of the Eternal pool.  Upon this rides the Engineer.

She, He, It is all things.  Dryads bow.  Leaves in reverence rustle.  A seeming apparition, this Engineer, save, its living, loving, laboring heart of mortal muscle.

Heartbeats of the world.  Of rocks , of trees, of languid pools, sun rays, and moon beams.   Its thump-thump the spinning of the earth, the boiling core’s hum, the harmonic of the great Machine.

Yet, with each beat mortal muscle withers.  Life bleeds from the Engineer.  All Her, His, Its love given unto death.  Sap drips from bark and bow.  Ancient Dryad tears.

Night couples again with day.  Waters caressed by Sun’s last fingers of flame.  Silent now the Engineer’s heart.  He, She, It forever fades.

Return from whence they walked “crippled spiders” do.  A solemn tree upon each back. Engineer’s gifted love felt as ground meets stepping root.  All hundred years upon the track.

A millennium of hourglass sands fall.  Alas!  A call Dryads again hear.  Summoning their race to witness as they have all time.  The Machine of the Cosmos, the Lover of all Things, the Universe Engineer.

 

Word Count – 407

 

 

~CLS~

Unseen

burn baby

Unrepentant he glares.  His undisguised anger boiling, seeping.  He points with a finger of his mind, and he accuses.

“Your crimes are too great, too heinous for you to dare to counter so,” I declare.

His defiance lessens none.  His stare remains spiteful.

I turn to the jury—these fine twelve clones of justice—and all give a slow, and solemn nod.

“Your Honor,” I address the Judge, “the accused here before you, as you can well see, offers no admission, no remorse.  No, your Honor; not even a single tear has he shed for his terrible trespasses.”  Now it is my finger that extends, seemingly of its own accord, and finds its way to point at the Accused.

The Judge, looking much like the Jury, closes his eyes, and offers me, and all those bearing witness, the same slow nod of understanding.  He is guilty, it says. Proceed.  And so I do.

“The charges are as follows, your Honor, and esteemed members of the Jury…”

I clear my throat.  The accused snickers.

“He who stands shackled before you, my dear peers, has many crimes; any of which singularly uttered, and convicted of, would damn him.  So let us not toil, brothers, with a lengthy oration of the Accused’s many felonies against us.  Instead, let me bring to light but one … Treason!”

The Jurors look to one another, shock unhidden from expressions.  Further away, in the deep dark, the Witnesses murmur amongst themselves, their many voices a hum, a beehive of a thousand androgynous clones.

A wry smile curls at the corner of the Defendant’s mouth.

“Yes, Treason,” I continue, “against a hundred years of meticulous tradition, against—dare I say?—Family!”

The courtroom explodes in an uproar.  Shouts fly, spittle sailing close behind.  Twelve Jurors’ fingers point, untold others from the shadows thrust their digits at the Accused, and, more importantly, the Judge himself stands, and points with his oaken gavel.

“Guilty!” he declares.

“Guilty!” follows the Jurors’ chorus.

“Guilty!” comes the affirmation from the multitudes in the dark.

Now it is I who smile.

The Accused is hauled away to his fate, and we, his judges in this, follow to bear witness to the end of rebellion.

To a tall post he’s chained.  Log and tinder are piled below.

I am handed the torch that will end this, and bring the course of the Family’s dark channels back to an even flow.

Stepping to the timber stacked high, I lift my head to gaze with satisfaction one last time so I might take with me his terror, and know my righteousness—the righteousness of us all—was well founded.

My shock nearly drives me rearward, as I see no terror at all, but instead that same sneer, that same mocking mouth that hints at knowing something of great consequence that all of us have somehow failed to recognize.

I linger but an instant, then turn away, dropping the torch upon the fuel of his much deserved end as I do so.  I hear flames crackle behind, and walk away.  The faces of the Judge, Jury, and glowing masses in the dark, stare up at the Convicted.

Yet they do not gloat.  They instead gasp.  Then, as before, they all point.

I turn to see him, the Convicted, my Nemesis, my defeated foe, engulfed in flame.  He screams not.  He smiles still.  How?  Why?  A singular thought had by all minds whose eyes behold what mine do.

Then I am answered.

My robes catch fire.  My hair ignites, then my body, as if one of the logs from the inferno of the Condemned, bursts into roaring flame.

I scream, harmonizing with the Judge, Jury, and all the Witnesses as they too burn.

Over the great din of the whipping flames, and with the last of my consciousness, I hear him, the Condemned laughing, and I know the truth…

He is me.

He is us all.

 

 

~CLS~