The following piece received 1st Place in our 2013 Hallow/Hallowed Flash Fiction Contest. Congrats, Gordon!
Donna and I weren’t married, which is probably just one reason we didn’t go up into the sky with most other folks in Despin Creek. Donna set to bawling that we’d missed The Rapture, but I wasn’t worried.
I’m what you’d call a practical man.
First, I took my guns and, using those, I took other people’s guns. Then, with all those guns, I took all the food. With that settled, people started seeing the wisdom of coming to me.
We gated up the town, fenced it in with old cars and construction supplies. We had hard men and loose women, sure, but also doctors and lawyers and teachers and everything. It was just like the old days, but better, because I was in charge.
Because there was enough canned food in the warehouse and soulless animals in the forest to keep everyone fed.
Because if people didn’t get with the plan, then I had other practical solutions.
And it was good for a while, until Donna started really showing, and then one day she said, “Baby, I can feel him in my belly. It’s like he’s lifting me off the ground.”
I thought she was referring to the lightness and joys of maternity, but no.
Donna’s what you would call a literal person.
It was in Doc Greenbriar’s office, after hours of pushing and swearing, that I heard the pop. I thought maybe the baby’s head had cracked Donna’s pelvis open like a chestnut, but no. It was just our beautiful baby escaping the bounds of his mother.
Straight up, like a birthday balloon with a thick, wet tether back into Donna’s recesses – the only remaining connection to this sinful world.
He was pink and innocent and I knew that here was my salvation.
Doc Greenbriar’s mouth was wide open behind his blue paper mask, eyes on the baby bouncing on the ceiling. He fumbled for his forceps and his scissors, but I slapped his hands away.
“You idiot,” I said, grasping the umbilical string connected to my angelic boy. “If you cut that now, he’s liable to float away.”
Hand over hand I pulled him down, feeling the pulse still in the fleshy cord. It felt strong, alive. Pure. With the baby in my arms, I wrapped him in my flannel shirt, squeezing him tight. I could still feel him pulling away.
He was strong.
“What – what –” the doc stuttered.
“This,” I said, “means that there ain’t no such thing as Original Sin. It means we might all get to Heaven yet.”
As I said, I’m a practical man.
So I took the guns and I took the food, and with those I took Doc Greenbriar and Donna and Sandy and Kaitlin and Deidre and Mandy and Heather and two newcomers who wouldn’t tell me their names and this here lawn chair with these eight bungee cords.
And, in just a few more months, my children and I are going to Heaven.
Gordon White lives in New York, but was born and raised in the South. As a result, his tastes are equal parts noir and Gothic, bagels and barbecue. His poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in places such as Stupefying Stories, Vine Leaves, and Shadow Road Quarterly.
Lead image: “Baby Toss” (via Flickr user Shane Gorski)