I haven’t done flash fiction in ages and so when I got a sudden craving for it, I went over to check out Miranda Kate‘s MidWeek Flash for this week. The rules are simple and listed on the site. If you like to write, you should give it a shot. This week’s picture prompt is below. Isn’t it gorgeous?
I hope you enjoy my flash. Be warned, this one’s really weird. Not sure what I was on today, but at least I wrote. ROFL.
by Stacy Bennett
I don’t know if you remember those dark days, my friend. The days before the Mirror Men came. Mimicatronic, that was the new tech. At least, I think that’s what it was called.
The Mirror Men. Imitation counselors to soothe our collective unconscious. Silica suits stuffed with bits of AI and Freud and a weedy whiff of new age. (For the lingering hippies, like Mrs. McDonough. Do ya remember her? And her pissing little dog?)
Anyway. We lived in the tenements then. Rook Street. Ten of us to a room. Like roaches, you said. Squirming on top of each other in the stinking swelter of post-Warm autumn. We were on the verge of riots that year. Fueled by an internet drought. Electricity was scarce as sex. Remember only being able to charge every three days? That kind of restriction could drive a man to kill, wouldn’t you say?
Well, I don’t know if you remember when the first one came to our town. But I remember when they hauled all of Rook Street out into the drizzle to be “saved.” Were you there, or had ya walked to the Plaza? I can’t remember but I know they lined us up on the street.
Most of the others were eager. So sure he was going to fix us. Fix what was wrong in our souls. ‘Cuz that was the promise. But I never trust no one. You know that. So, I was the last in line. I thought about trying to shake the cops. But I was more afraid of them than of him. If I knew what he’d show me, I’d have run for sure.
Wait, you were there. But ahead of me in line. So, you know what it was like. Looking in that mirror. I don’t know if you ever shared what you saw that day, but I could never repeat what he showed me in that liquid puddle.
But then afterward, the strangest thing happened. The Mirror Man spoke to me. As I was leaving. He said something that broke through the tremors and the sobs and the vomit I’d leave outside the door before it was over.
I told you this already, didn’t I?
No? Well, that bastard said he was sorry.
Sorry – f you can believe it. After reporting my sins like a bank tally of the devil’s coin. Reading my flaws like St. Peter’s list and making me wish I was dead already. Each word a stab in the gut.
I know you know what I mean. And it wasn’t just what you had done, but what you might do, what you would do.
But once he told me my sins and I puked them up, I felt lighter somehow. Clean. I was gonna thank him. His eyes grey and wet like the doves on benches in the mist. And he said, “Sorry.”
He looked more miserable than I felt as he apologized. All of which is crazy because robots can’t feel. They hadn’t given him feelings. None of them Mirror Men had feelings.
And then he asked me why. Why he’d been made to show folks their deepest dark and make them hurt. He hadn’t cared at first, he said. But somehow, he’d grown feelings. He cultivated humanity like vines from the cuttings of our tears. But since he never sowed happiness , I guess he couldn’t reap it. He was sure he was doing something wrong. That the Makers couldn’t have intended him to cause such pain.
I didn’t know what to say so I just left him there. Standing with his fingers on the mirror.
I heard later from Mrs. McDonough that folks had driven him out of town with stones and bottles. Things got better after that. Remember? Like he took the bad with him when he went.
I still think of him sometimes. And I wonder who was the broken one.
This week’s prompt photo was created by Marcela Bolivar, a digital artist from Columbia.