Let's FlashFiction: The Memory Mines

The Memory Mines

The Mines were deep. 

Tiverius knew that, and he knew his name, and on some nights retaining that knowledge was a desperate struggle. The Mines were deep, and he had to work in them. For hours he would scratch away at the walls to reveal gemstones that cast a fluorescent glow in the cavern. 

The Swallowerians owned the mines, wraithlike creatures. He remembered his name because they said it so often: “Tiverius, Tiverius, the Mines are deep, and you have lost so much…” 

Then they would cackle only pausing to suck on the gemstones with their purse-like mouths, their white eyes rolling back into their heads in pleasure. Feeding.

He stumbled about in the darkness, grit beneath his fingernails, and his shirt bonded with the skin of his back, like a reptile—What?—sticky with sweat, his lips salty. When the cold winds swept down the Mines, mingling with the stale air of the caverns, Tiverius would curl up to rest.

He was the only mortal in the cavern who knew his name. Every night before he went to sleep, he would grind his teeth and repeat his name over and over, a mantra. Tiverius. Tiverius.

He awoke, aching, and lapped water from a puddle on the ground, like a dog—What was that?—and when he couldn’t remember, he vision blurred. He picked up his pickax and with a furious swing, he hacked at the rocks, watching the glow expand, wanting to just be swallowed up forever, and suddenly a gemstone rolled out of the wall. 

Chest heaving, he dropped the pickaxe. Then he closed his eyes, trying to relax, and found his mantra missing. 

No. 

He couldn’t be the same. He had always been different. How had he been different? 

He dropped to his knees and pressed his face against the wall, as if he will his memories back from the rock. With a frown, he realized the hole from the gemstone was quite deep. He stuck his head in the crack, and he saw the cavern below, the next level in the Mines. 

He heard the crack of the whip below, saw dumb, cow-like faces frantically fumbling against the rocks. The Swallowerians did not even speak to them, and he realized with horror that those below had lost even their words.  

He concluded the further down, the less you knew, the more of you was swallowed by the rocks, memories buried alive. He knew that he had been bad several times. MischievousRebellious. Gazing upwards, he listened to the chamber above.  

They spoke. He heard words that weren’t words—names. 

He gritted his teeth and glanced back at the others. Hurrying, he squirmed into the hole, shredding his skin of clothing, leaving him naked. He reached up into the crack leading upwards, following the sound. As his hand grasped a crag, his name rushed back… and something else entirely. 

Tiverius. Crown prince. 

Tears burned his eyes—the Mines were deep.

Tiverius continued to climb. 

Let's FlashFiction: The Glass Ninja

The Glass Ninja

The Satsuma clans were in for a rude awakening when Gura went rogue and designed a regenerator glass suit. 

Black Castle rose up from the lake mists. Gura leapt across the moat and clung to the castle walls like ice, merged with the window, then passed through the glass. 

Two samurai stepped from the shadows. 

He smashed his foot against the ground, shattering his heel, then kicked the shards. It tore through their armor, and he was already down the hall. 

Blending with the wallpaper, he crept into the sleeping lord’s room. 

As silent as a spider, he closed his eyes and held his fist above the lord’s open mouth. The glass started to bubble and melt, and just as the lord shifted towards the heat, the fist dropped off at the wrist, covering his mouth and nose in molten glass. 

“A rude awakening indeed,” muttered the Glass Ninja.

Let's FlashFiction: The Graveyard Orchids

he Graveyard Orchids

Georgetown has warped, but Oak Hill Cemetery has remained the same. 

In the 1850s, William Corcoran oversaw the cemetery’s creation: a church and knobbly tombstones. In those days you could see the river. 

Trees fell down. The smog rolled in. Cramped townhouses swelled around the graveyard: the only swatch of quilt in Georgetown still green. Georgetown, the dirty district where buildings sobbed. If you climbed over the fence, in the bushes behind Frederick Aiken’s tombstone, on a full moon, you can find the graveyard orchids smelling of musk, arsenic, and orange peel. 

We ripped down the slums. Townhouse stores rose along the river, beautiful, climbing the hill from the perfumery all the way to the graveyard.  At the top of the hill, you can still uncover the graveyard orchids, tender and fragrant from the soil’s juices. 

We natives smell like Georgetown. 

Women only enter the perfumery to fix things that are already broken. 

Silda Spitzer, that governor’s wife, tapped her fingers on the perfumist’s counter, her blouse starched and her shoes clean. The perfumist squatted over his bottles, sniggering as he worked. He shocked a bundle of charcoal orchids in ice water to extract their scent. He blended it with amber and a touch of coffee. 

A week later the scandal would break, the prostitutes coming down from New York to Washington’s golden Mayflower Hotel. 

We natives smell like Georgetown; we know what the death of things smells like.