Me in the Corner

This was a 600-word challenge for a comp called “Short Takes”. At least, that’s what was in the filename in my “Shorts” folder, and I can’t even remember anything about it other than that. There was a time there that I was entering fresh writing into every comp that I could.

Probably a time before I got a bit burnt out. By Life, not Writing. I’m slowly starting to right myself, to steady some things back out. I’ll get there. Eventually.

Anyway, this was actually inspired by a dream I had after watching an episode of The Walking Dead where they first meet Gabriel, the priest that shut his church to his flock during the outbreak (SPOILERS, but you should’ve seen that bit by now). I went with a re-imagining of someone that wasn’t such a one-dimensional, spineless turd.



The walls groaned dustily, imperceptibly slowly heaving in the dark. The darkened pews sat bonily, a ribcage formed with the high-arching timber eaves. The pulpit beckoned and betrayed him, pulsing. The bloody, meaty, beating heart of it all.

He was backed into a corner, curled tightly into a ball against the finished maple slats of the latest improvements and refurbishments, squeezed from the last donations received before it all fell. Nobody knew then. None of them knew now, not any more. Their earnings as stupidly given as their lives.

The building breathed outside of his direct notice, but he was as keenly aware of it as he was his own intake of air. It lived as he lived, but not for much longer. He wouldn’t be a martyr though. Dead was dead when you weren’t remembered.

A sigh from the depths, whispered airily through the steeple vents and across the bells that have sat silently since it began. Somehow it knew. He blinked his eyes wetly as he got to his feet, and he wondered if it was the fumes or the sentimentality that caused it. The air was swollen pregnantly with both.

He walked stumblingly down the aisle, but never stopped nor leaned for support as he knew it would mean he’d brokenly collapse in that spot. To pause was to perish now, there would be no last rites. No prayer, whispered reverently from between clasped hands. No epitaph left stoically in the char. The death itself would be enough.

The fumes threatened headily to overwhelm him as much as his feelings, but he was as he ever was before. An instrument, waiting mindlessly to be swung this way and that. A pointer, a time-keeper, a bat. He’d never be of his own in this world, just as he wasn’t in the last one. But he would take this last step, listlessly, forward into the unknown.

The huge doors groaned painfully as he pushed them open, resistance like the tearing of muscle and tendon. His own heart felt it too, rending meatily in his own chest just as he’d burst this monstrosity’s open to the world. His nostrils seared acridly with the initial strike of the match. His skin warmed instantly as the room lit energetically. The heat hit his eyes and he blinked furiously before staggering backward down the front steps.

Night begged for him, its dark arms opened pleadingly for his escape, but the more he plodded stompingly toward it, the more the death throes behind him chased it away. Every step toward the bosom of his fresh future was absorbed by the enlarging glow, the engorged orange eating away at his release as he moved yearningly to it.

He’d found the end before he knew it, the embrace disappointingly delayed, but the gently rippling creek cutting brashly through the trees was it. The embodiment of the battle between old and new. Or new and newer, as it were. Had he stayed, it would all be lost anyway, himself included. New was the way away from this.

Martyred, betrayed, murdered. Instead the stories, the building, all it held within and all it beaconed out would all die. Everything it represented would be gone soon, some other to taking its place. The way of all things, unflinchingly unsympathetic and unsentimental. And he would go morosely along with it.

It was old and it would die and a new one would eagerly take its place. He wasn’t old yet but he was just an instrument, and he would find use to something else, somewhere else, somewhere across the creek.