Flash Fiction by Spencer Macdonald
"Glimpse of Heaven" Painting by Jeanine Delport
Eric’s eyes snapped open. I was… I was… His brain didn’t seem to be cooperating. It...where…am... I?, he thought slowly.
His body ached. It was cold. With some effort, he managed to roll over onto his side and look around. He blinked. What...? He squeezed his eyes shut and held them for several moments before tentatively opening them again.
He couldn’t quite grasp what he saw, though, in an eerie moment of comprehension, he realized he had no idea what he had expected. Before him stretched a pure white void that seemed to carry on forever. Black specks dotted it, like a negative image of the… of the what?
The... sky, he thought. The night sky.
Even the surface beneath him appeared that way, with no definition or sheen at all. He rose to his feet slowly, which proved disorienting. Though he could feel the ground’s presence beneath him, it looked as if he were suspended in the air. In the middle of eternity itself.
Wait a second… Air.
He remembered air.
And he remembered…
A sickening realization hit him, and his eyes widened in shock.
I’m not breathing!!! Have I not been breathing? HOW am I not breathing?
He attempted to scream, but no sound came. Tears rose in his eyes and he stumbled, grasping at his throat, begging in vain for oxygen to travel in. Hysteria overtook him and he fell to the not-floor, sobbing silently. He pressed his palms firmly against his eyes in an attempt to block out this new, nightmarish reality. It was all wrong. It was all so, so wrong.
He lay curled on the floor for a long time without looking out into the expanse, tears streaming down the sides of his face. Though he appeared to not need to breathe in this place, wherever it was, the urge to do so remained, keeping him in a frenzied panic.
Slowly, however, his presence of mind returned, having seemingly accustomed itself to the urge to breathe not being fulfilled.
He eventually found himself rising to his feet and began to walk. He wasn’t sure why. He walked for many… Hours? Days? Years? There was no way to know. It seemed that time didn’t have much meaning here. It was just him. Eric and the void.
From time to time, in a moment of lucidity, he’d get a random word or two. Hacky sack. Earth. Toothbrush. Bulldog. Isaac. He could always kind of understand what they meant in the most general sense, but always had trouble visualizing them. In fact, the only thing he seemed to be able to picture or remember clearly at all was the night sky, and that was because he had a reference, albeit inverse, all around him.
During that first, long walk, there were two questions that plagued him more than anything else: Who was he? And how had he gotten here?