Moth to the Flame Flash Fiction.

Liam stood in the middle of the field, staring at the fire. The sky was a dull grey, it had been threatening rain since the morning and a cold wind had been blowing steadily all day. He shivered and moved closer to the fire. The flames jumped and danced, blues and yellows and reds all competing for dominance, it was mesmerising. The fire had appeared two days before, he had spotted the strange flickering light and had come to investigate, there was no smoke and as far as he could tell nothing was actually burning. The fire seemed to be on the grass but the grass was unmarked, there were no scorch marks, no burned circle, nothing. Since he had found it he woke each morning and made the trek out to it, about an hours walk in all, and each night he would walk home. The fire never seemed to grow or diminish and it gave off a pleasant heat even when you were standing right next to it. Liam pulled one hand from his pocket and slowly moved it over the top of the fire, it felt warm and comfortable, he held his hand a few inches above the flames and it was the same. He pulled his hand back and stared at the palm, expecting to see scorch marks or ash but his palm was smooth and clean. He took a slow breath, pulled up his sleeve, then carefully moved one trembling hand into the fire. Still it didn’t burn. He watched the flames lick his finger and palms, watched as it flicked up along his wrist. Liam pulled his hand out and started at it, why wasn’t he burnt?

The flames jumped higher for a moment, startling Liam, he looked up and realised the night had fallen, how long had he been standing here? Dark clouds covered the sky in every direction. He could hear noise in the distance, a steady, heavy clanking that was steadily getting closer. He reached into his pocket and took out his phone, it was dead. He squinted into the darkness, he knew it would be dangerous to cross the field at night, it was rocky and full of places just waiting to trip the unwitting, but he didn’t like the sound of the clanking, it sent shivers up his spine and made it feel as though something was squirming inside his stomach. Without hesitation he turned and began to walk slowly into the darkness. As he walked he kept his hands out in front of him, he carefully dragged his feet along the ground, testing for anything that might trip him, by the time he reached the hedging the noise was almost unbearably loud. He turned and looked back, the fire was still burning, but there was something else too, something immense and hulking. Flickers of light danced off metal, as he watched a large hand reached out and carefully cupped the fire, blocking out most of the light. There was the rusty creak of hinges and then the fire was visible again, illuminating the creature. Liam gasped in horror, the creatures hands and legs were made of rusted and pitted metal, the body of the creature was made of what appeared to be crushed human bodies, arms and legs stuck out from the creatures stomach at odd angles, he could see faces dotted through out, some of them were opening and closing their mouths as though trying to speak, others looked like they were screaming but no sound came out. He spotted other limbs sticking out from the arms and legs, poking out between gaps in the metal. The darkness kept the creatures head in shadow, for which Liam was thankful. Slowly the creature turned, the screech of old metal filling the air, and then it began to lumber back the way it came. Liam stayed still until after the sounds finally faded, it was only when dawn began to break on the horizon that he felt safe enough to move. He walked home quickly, jumping at sudden noises, he had this awful feeling that the creature was hiding somewhere, waiting for him.

He turned into his driveway, feeling himself relax, he was almost home and he was safe. He stopped in the middle of the driveway, the fire was burning merrily on his front doorstep. He approached it slowly, he felt as though he was being watched, as if that creature was just waiting to pounce on him. He paused at the fire then looked around the garden, there was no where that thing could be hiding and no sign that it had even been here. Maybe the fires were spontaneous rather than controlled by it? He reached out and put his hand over it, he was cold after the night outside and the soft heat was quite comforting. The flames suddenly rose up and wrapped themselves around his hand, Liam cried out in surprise and tried to pull his hand back, but it wouldn’t move. He struggled against the fire but his arm was stuck. He called out for help, already knowing that no one would hear him, his closest neighbours were two miles away. He continued to struggle against the fire as it moved up his arm and spread across his chest, before long he was covered in it and completely immobile. In the distance he could hear that harsh clanking sound and it was steadily getting closer.

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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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