fireflies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
a short horror story influenced by ray bradbury's "the crowd"

Submitted: December 14, 2016

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Submitted: December 14, 2016

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“The Fireflies”

Orin Rook

I saw them one cold October evening, descending from above the luminous blood red of the western sun.  They appeared, a dozen or so, like orbs flickering as flint upon steel.  A mistimed blink and I would have failed to see them at all for once they sunk to the level of the waning light across the horizon they were perfectly camoflauged.  They seemed to land inside the abandoned house which was separated from my own by only a narrow, still stream of cracked asphalt.  Only a moment passed before wavering flames could be seen spilling forth from the boarded windows, illuminating the long, vacant eyes of the house, bringing them to life like a jack-o-lantern.  I was dimly aware of the phone resting on it’s wall mount and the need to grab it, to call for help.  But it was unnessesary, the lure of the snapping and cracking of wood, the stingingly sweet smell of the smoke was all that was needed. 

I sat on my porch and lit a cigarette, losing sight of it’s emberous cherry and curls of blue smoke in the conflagration before me.  By the time I tasted the harsh burning of the filter the street was packed.  The flashing lights of emergency vehicles only added to the opiod effect of the beautiful blaze and like the addicts we are the whole town appeared, materialized like smoke from an empty building. 

We laugh at the idiocy of moths, drawn towards the scalding lights of our design and into the webs of opportunistic spiders.  We chuckle condescendingly at the writhing fish, hanging by the cheek from one of our hooks.  We applaud our wit because we know no better, we forget the vastness of our universe and our own mortality in it.  Slowly we lost our aversion to fear, forgot to recognize the signs.  Dogs run beneath couches before we hear the first clap of thunder, while we run outside to watch the lightening dance across the sky.  Birds can feel the drop of pressure that comes with tornadoes and flee, while we chase the violent winds with video recorders.  Elephants stomp out fire at the first spark while we gather to watch it consume all it touches. 

I had never thought about all that until that night when I watched a dozen or so orbs which sparked like flint upon steel leave that burning house.  I don’t know why no one but me saw them, perhaps they were to hypnotized, or perhaps they didn’t know what to look for, but I saw them.  I watched one of them fly up old Mrs. Higgens nose, she was the first to go, ranting like a mad woman about something in her brain.  The autopsy revealed a tumor the size of a golf ball growing at the part of her brain where it meets the spinal cord.  Over the past five years 11 others went the same way, an unprecedented number in a town of only 1,000.  The EPA and FDA and maybe a few others have been poking around.  They seem to agree that probably the tumors are from carcinogens from the old mill outside of town, leaked into a few wells.  They said since they could find no carcinogens in any wells that the danger had probably passed, but I know they’re wrong because even now I can feel that pressure on my skull, where the brain connects to the spinal cord, like somethings eating at my brain and on some dark evenings when I close my eyes for a very long time I see a spark through my eyelids, like flint upon steel.


© Copyright 2017 Orin Rook. All rights reserved.

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