Saloth Sar held power, pure power over all. Under his totalitarian rule the women of childbearing age were caged within the fence. The men were enlisted as work force soldiers, Warriors, or Commandants. Soldiers lived outside the gates while Commandants and Warriors held free reign. The last bomb revved the gravitational field up to 149.71 million kilometers; the planet had become unbearably cold. In the absence of warmth, food sources diminished. If females managed to penetrate the prison wall, the high energy radiation would poison them leaving no way to live more than a day or two. The energy of the fence hummed.

Ferris and Angel would lean against the interior alley wall at night listening to the sound. In their hunger, almost weightless, the electric hum brought a remembrance of music. Women were only allowed the chocolate milk. Largely, it put them in a trance, tearing their true minds into puzzle pieces and mixing them into the mash, which was fed to the military. Inexplicably, the soldiers craved the flavor. When they grew too hungry they would taunt the women from outside the gate with obscenities. This type of sexual mockery had no effect on the women, whose flat affect was only supplanted by seductive smiles, pleasing the Warriors immensely. The Commandant however was unfazed by feminine wiles.

Angel wiggled in her discomfort: the walls, the choking claustrophobia, the dark-dank alley were bearing on her nervous system. Her skull, the vertebrae and the surrounding soft tissue were all starting to jell. She would soon be mashed. “Ferris, we have no freedom here. No freedom to sing, to speak, to be somebody, anybody, and we have no freedom from the Saloth Sar régime. The days of anarchy are over; we have to escape.”

Ferris gazing skyward with her steely blue-green eyes crooned: “I remember the deep colored violets. They were my favorite. Will they be there… in the far away meadows, maybe with dandelions and sheep?”

“I don’t know. I don’t care. Cataclysm is better than this alley.” The temptation to escape was as dependable as acid snow, always vanishing with the morning sun. The two sat, gazing into the shadows when they saw a Pregnant One saunter by. She is a banner of hereditary magnificence. Being with child entitles her to the mash. Until they become sober they will never rebel, and not until after they have rebelled can they become sober and so it goes, around again. “Angel, I am ready for your whim. Let’s do it. When the Commandant gives us our chocolate milk we will slip it into our baskets and go out again. We will dress like schoolgirls. We can sip a bit at first, and then let it ooze into the corners of our mouth leaving a trace of that chemical smell.”

United, they live as one. The journey would be perilous, but discontent was screeching in their brain. Discontent is all that remains, no pride, no lamenting; they gave up crying weeks ago. At first, escape was unfathomable, being watched always. The constant chill and the uselessness of the plastic blankets devoured all trust in hope. Saloth Sar’s invariable demand of female diminutive posture, coupled with geisha like coquetry, was a blatant yet delicate instrument of torture.

More than just their health had been taken from them. They used to love the darkness and the free sexuality that accompanied it. Even if the darkness aided their escape, they would never again enjoy vaginal pleasure. The moist cavities of this alley and the weekly inseminations had secured that. They were only trying to escape to find the earth again, find sustenance.

The plan was fully developed by the time the Commandant materialized with the chocolate milk. His face bore its typical stone, vindictive look. The girls, breathlessly watching, eyes glittering with anticipation, saw him press forward. They saw the knives flash. The line was slow, the darkness seemed to grow. They were glad as it hid the silent thought, circled their impenetrable pact. We are secret, forbidden. One woman was escorted to the fence where she was staccato lashed with a cat-o-nine-tails and crowned with the golden death mask. Soldiers waited for her to die so they could eat her. Soon her bones would become part of their desolation mythology, like the tales they read about in the scrawls on bathroom walls before the deluge. The sacrifice complete, cold, so cold, it was repulsive, but it penetrates the active mind. Mesmerized, they remained numbly in line awaiting the dissolution of time.

The snow, now falling more heavily, whipped about fiercely. They swig the milk and smile. It is dangerous not to speak to the Soldiers “Yes, we are very happy,” murmurs Angel. Her mind racing with thoughts: I have to say something, what else can I say? Ferris, fight to free our lives, fight. Bones of the devoured body lay on the pavement. Angel sees something shiny, seizes it and tucks it under her shirt.

Feigning delight for the chocolate milk, Ferris smiles blindingly at the men, “One day you’ll thank me for this.” The men, stuffed from their feast, grin with waning excitement. Their eyes flicker and abandon the two. As the belles reach the alley they rumble down it, full tilt into the wall. The wreaths of transparent gloom fall behind them, lost. They storm the barrier. The sound of spheres set in their path. Galactic rings harmoniously calm their mind.

Morning found the two entwined and enveloped in the whirling mist and snow only feet from the wall. Angel crawls toward the humming fence with Ferris holding tightly and pushing as best she can. Reaching deep within, Angel removes the golden mask, plunging it into the membrane of the force field, igniting a maximum thrust cataclysmic explosion, launching the planet toward the weave of hot plasma and magnetic fields that we know as the Sun.


About m.a. wood

writer, thinker, musician, teacher
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One Response to Hatch

  1. m.a. wood says:

    The feedback from the judges on your Challenge #1 story from the Flash Fiction Challenge 2014 is below. We hope you find the feedback helpful and you were inspired by the challenge!

    ”Hatch” by Melissa Anne Wood – WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – …………The last sentence of the first paragraph has great impact. Once you start reading the piece, the ominous quality of the title becomes obvious. The piece uses the prompts in creative ways. …The story is centered around a central conflict — Angel and Ferris’ escape — and remains consistent throughout; too many times, it is easy to stray from the central thread, and that’s not the case here. There is also good use of dialogue in that nothing is presented in it that isn’t necessary for the reader to know; we’re given only what we need in order to keep the story moving forward….You show a great talent for creating intricate and unique plots. The storyline was engaging, and I think if you had more space you could have run with this more…………………………………………………. WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – …………The multiple tenses are confusing. Many be, was, and were constructions weaken the prose. The plot and details seem too ambitious for a short piece, and the story has the flavor of being part of a longer work….One of the issues that frequently crops up in science fiction pieces is a front-loading of the details of the world; here, we’re given a chunk of information and back story at the beginning. While this might seem like a good idea because it firmly grounds the reader in an environment with which he isn’t familiar, it can also make the opening ponderous. The better way to bring in these details is to drip them out a bit at a time while we see the characters engaged in their central conflict: the reader learns about the environment and the cause of the conflict as he’s seeing the action unfold. Another technique which aids in getting the information across without slowing down the pacing is to determine exactly which details are important to the story at hand. The reader may not need to know, for example, that “Soldiers lived outside the gates while Commandants and Warriors held free reign,” but he definitely DOES need to know that “women of childbearing age were caged within a fence.” Be selective about the details chosen to reveal; be certain that each contributes to the actual plot or resolution of the story. If Saloth Sar means nothing to the actual predicament that the characters are in, then he may not need to be mentioned.//Author intrusion crops up at several different points in the story — for example, in the paragraph which begins “I don’t know. I don’t care. Cataclysm is better than this alley…” — dialogue which is spoken by Angel — there is a passage which reads “Until they become sober they will never rebel, and not until after they have rebelled can they become sober and so it goes, around again.” The only reason this is author intrusion is because it isn’t being telegraphed from Angel’s POV. One way to solve this problem would be to write insted: “Angel knew that until they become sober…”…I found the opening paragraph, and some of the story, a little “chunky” – it held a lot of information in a very cramped space. You might look at creating space between that information with short, informal descriptions of the environment that allow the reader to visualise a little more, or delve deeper into Ferris or Angel’s characters


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