The Flesh. Flash Fiction.

“I feel sick.”
“Just focus on walking, keep your head down and don’t look.”
Carl stared at the pavement as he walked, Becky was slightly ahead of him, he focused on her red high heels, the steady click clack as they hit the pavement. To their left was a writhing mass of groaning bodies, a hand reached out towards Carl, he thought he heard someone say his name, he didn’t look. Who ever it was they were dead now, dead and gone. The temptation to look was too great, his eyes flicked over to the jumbled flesh, his eyes followed the arm that reached for him, towards the persons face. Two dark eyes started at him, below them was a gaping maw, who ever it was they no longer looked human. He felt his stomach clench, he hurried to the edge of the pavement before he started throwing up. Becky was suddenly beside him, her hand soothingly rubbing his back. She passed him a tissue which he used to blow his nose, he coughed, then groaned. “Sorry I don’t have anything you can use to rinse out your mouth.”
“That’s ok. Thanks.” The words were difficult to get out, the smell and taste of the vomit hung heavily in his mouth and nostrils.
“Well, if it makes you feel any better you weren’t the only one to blow chunks.”
Pools of vomit lined the road, “Though I think most of them saw it happen.”
Carl stood upright, “C’mon, lets get out of here, I don’t want to barf again.”
They started walking. The smell of vomit overpowered the smell of the flesh, which was a small mercy. The flesh always smelled like stale sweat and shit.
As they moved past it squad cars started arriving, the officers stepped out of their cars carrying heavy rolls of yellow tape, a few started pulling large plastic sheeting from the trunks.

“Feeling better?”
“A little, now that the taste is gone. Did they say who did it?”
“Not yet, no one is taking credit for this one. I think it was that Animal Liberation group.”
“Could be the anti-science nuts again.”
“Yeah maybe. Could be someone new either.”
Carl shook his head, “I don’t get how someone could do that to another human being.”
Becky looked down at her hands, “Well, at least they won’t be suffering for too much longer.”
Carl winced inwardly, he had forgotten Becky’s dad had been caught up in a blast about five years back. Awful way to go, the only way to kill them properly was incineration, nothing else seemed to work. The only relief was knowing that who ever had been caught in the blast were no longer themselves, that person died the moment the blast hit. What was left was a mockery of the person, their bodies and minds melded into one giant mass, screaming with the voices of the dead, begging for people to try to help them, to pull them free. Carl had seen some of the early footage, he had watched as those that were trying to help were dragged screaming and struggling into the mass of flesh, never to be seen again.
“All those groups calmed down for a while, I thought maybe it’d finally stopped.”
Carl shrugged, “Something like that, I don’t think they’d ever stop using it. If it wasn’t them it’d be someone else. I heard that it was being used in warzones now.”
“They couldn’t do that, could they? It’d be against human rights or the Geneva convention or something.”
“I dunno, that’s just what I heard. Could have been a rumour.”
Becky wrapped her arms around herself, “if it’s true that’s awful.”

They sat in silence for a moment, Carl tried to think of something to say, but all he could picture was that mass of flesh. His stomach clenched. Carl grimaced and took a sip of his water, he just needed to push it out of his mind. It was over now, by the time they were walking back it would all be cleared up, or at the very least blocked off so they wouldn’t have to see it.

Becky opened her mouth to speak, then paused, “Did you find out who it was?”
Carl nodded, “yeah, it was a guy I used to work with. He always was a bit of a dick. Still, wouldn’t want that to happen to anyone.”
She reached out and gently squeezed his hand.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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