Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fiction: Organizing the desk - come hell or high water

The roosters stopped crowing next door. Clouds were building up over the ridge line, rows of them bumping each other; the masses were turning from white to grey, then darker and darker. Quickly I stood up to see if I could make out anything in the silence but saw nothing as the light was quickly waning. Hairs stood up on the back of my neck. My chair fell over, knocking pens and stacks of papers to the floor.

Shit, shit, shit. I righted my chair, bent over and began restacking the piles of year-end receipts I was organizing, my usual practice during the slow week of Christmas holidays. A day-glow orange post-it sticker fluttered out of the pile and I noticed the name scribbled across it - Lionel Townsend. What? It was my handwriting. Why would I write this loathed person's name on a note? I'd spent years trying to forget the lying cheat who'd stolen too much of my time and money, embroiling me in a nasty real estate law suit.
As I straightened up I saw a movement through the window out of the corner of my eye. That strange white horse was coming over the ridge, three dogs running alongside at full clip. I'd seen this horse before - just a glimpse from behind a tree or a rock. One day when I turned off the main highway I'd spotted him running across a field. Driving the curving road home from Temecula to buy 2013 filing supplies, I'd seen him half hidden in an avocado grove. I thought it odd that he glanced at my car as I drove by. 

I swung around and grabbed the binoculars, quickly scanning the ridge. A wall of smoke appeared from nowhere, rushing up from behind the horse, suddenly engulfing it. In seconds, the dogs, the horse and the smoke vanished. In disbelief, I cranked my window open, straining to see or hear something but there was only an eerie, heavy silence as if all of nature had been muffled. The air seemed fetid and warm.

Keeping the binoculars trained on the vanishing point, I groped for the phone. Nothing moved; the phone was dead. Frozen in my tracks I could hear a faint crackling. The crackles morphed into an piercing scream followed by an gut wrenching roar. There were three massive booms. Across the now blackened sky, I saw a few lines of fiery light sail up and hesitate for a moment, like the palimpsest of a Disneyland finale, while a wall of flames reared up on the horizon obliterating everything. The binoculars dropped from my hand. 

"Happy New Year Lionel" was my final thought as I was sucked out of the room, up and over my disorganized desk, past my shiny new calendar and stacks of neatly labeled file folders; jettisoned into the inferno, the fucking post-it note clinging to my sweater.

Stellar inferno from

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