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Trick of the Light -- FWG Flash Fiction for 5/6/2023

I missed last week--not sure why. I was golfing during the day, then went to a Wood Flower (Wes's bluegrass band) show. But, I'm back his week writing to this prompt:

Trick of the Light

The Caretakers did their monthly sweep last night, taking the denizens of the Colony to “shelters,” some kicking and screaming. It was chaos, as always. But I, who can still read a calendar, knew it was coming and hid behind the pillar we all use as a privy. It’s worked three times in a row now. The stench is tolerable when you smell as bad as I do.

Now is the best time—sunrise after a sweep. The cooing of the pigeons in the beams, and the squeaking of the rats in the walls, make this place of defaced concrete seem almost…natural—if you ignore the rumble of traffic overhead. And, with no one to fight me for them, I can grab a still-lit cigarette butt, or the dregs of a Starbucks, thrown from the overpass.

Maybe this morning’s cig was laced, though. I’d swear I just saw movement in the creepy mural above the crossbeam that doesn’t look like anything. You can lose yourself in it if you look too long. I know, ‘cause I’ve lost hours just staring at it. I stroll the length of the gallery as nonchalantly as a minstrel playing for the lord of the manor. Leaning out, I get a good look at it.

The sunlight through the empty fan holes must be dazzling my eyes. The mural takes on depth. I see a mountain path climbing into hills. Even the dull shades of brown brighten and shift as I stare. Then, in the glare of the rising sun, I see a fae maiden beckoning to me, inviting me in. Her smile promises a peace of mind I haven’t known since the voices started.

A simple step, from this world to the next, is all that’s needed. She smiles again, and I leap.

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