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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Wednesday, 15 December 2010 04:29


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'Slate does not exist.'

The darkness was tangible around the holy light pouring down from the single, naked bulb hiding above them. In the spotlight: the spartan table, a chair on each side. The two men were distorted reflections, four hands palm down and shoulder-width apart on the smooth surface of the table; one pair smooth and pale as the North Star, the other the shade of a life's twilight, a continuous circle of simple gold around a finger, a curl of scar tissue across its rear.

Between the elder's hands is a hammer, the gleaming iron like a thunderstone, specks of imperfection lucent, a firefly dying under the bulb.

The voice repeats itself, harsh and thick as stale coffee. 'Slate does not exist.' It continues, the voice, expanding outward in measured syllables, 'Slate is a lie. A myth. A complete fiction and fabrication. Slate is the fairytale the string-pullers tell the green in the crotch halfway crooks.' Mid-monologue, the man pauses and its hand takes hold of the hammer, tapping to its temple the claw, before the words come out faster, jagged. 'The sooner you come to this realization, the sooner it breaks through your skull and takes root, well, all the better for you.'

'Rask,' the second voice said, the tone unpracticed and rough with a lifetime of silence.

'Yes?' The word hangs fluidly like velvet between the two bodies.

'Tell me about Slate.'

The source of the first voice turned at the corners towards the heavens, exposing its teeth in an imitation of a beast's smile.

'Are you sure about that?'

'Tell me about Slate.'

The second body, the younger, remains stationary, hands on the table, as the first body lifts the hammer towards the bulb at the ceiling. A moment passes, three beats of the heart, the muscles tense, and the hammer descends like Mjolnir, the arc bringing it down on the back of a hand. The impulse to scream, to tear back the appendage, is faster than the electric pulses shouting through the younger man's body. The metacarpals splinter and burn like a million grains of sand struck by lightning as they congealing into a white-hot mass. When the elder lifts the hammer, the young man falls to the cool, cement floor, cradling his hand to his chest. Spittle drops from his lips, tears from his eyes.

'Well?' The voice came from the sky, from God. When the youth was able to look from his broken hand to the source, all he saw was a shadow.

'Tell me about Slate.'

The smile above shifted, became less that of a predator and more a father, and then it was gone, and the young man lay on the floor, a laugh leaking from his lips.

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Last modified on Thursday, 15 March 2012 16:53
Chris Deal

Chris Deal writes from Huntersville, North Carolina.  His debut collection of microfiction, Cienfuegos, was published in early 2010 by Brown Paper Publishing.  You can find and harass him at www.Chris-Deal.com.

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