Thursday, September 27, 2012

October Flash Fiction #2

Josh Thornbrugh

The intercom crackled to life.
"Okay, Spencer, initiating temporal displacement test alpha in three...two..."
"Wait. Don't push the button," said Spencer.
It was too late; before he could get out the last word, the control room vanished, light assaulted him, and the floor gave way. His mind raced to piece together what was happening. I'm falling. Those are clouds up there. Spencer turned his head to the side, buffeted by wind. Is that a building? Oh my god! That's a building!
He flailed his arms violently, and managed to roll over. The second he did, he wished he hadn't. He was free falling next to a skyscraper, and the ground was looming closer by the second. A moment later, a shrill sound broke through the roar of wind. A moment after that, he realized he was screaming uncontrollably. They'll never know what happened. All those years of research and the team will never know that I died from a system glitch.
The ground rushed closer. His stomach knotted and he closed his eyes right before impact. He felt his body hit the ground and roll. He was still screaming when he opened his eyes. The light was dimmer and it flickered. He sat up and looked down at his legs. I'm still alive. How can that be? Am I untethered from the stream?
He looked up and took stock of his surroundings. He was in a subway, or at least it had been a subway at one time. By the look of things, it had been deserted for a long while. A single fluorescent light above him flickered on and off. He could make out a sign on the wall, 96th Street, Central Park West. New York? Maybe I can go up to street level and find a phone. Sure, I can find a phone and call the lab.
Spencer got up. He felt no stiffness, no injury. It's like it never happened. For a moment he believed everything was going to be fine. He would go up to street level, find a phone, and let the lab know the test had been a success. Despite the close call, he still felt it had been a success. The temporal jumper had worked. There are still some kinks to iron out. Kinks. He chuckled. We'll definitely have to work on the quantum coordinates, that’s for sure.
The sound of dogs barking brought him back to the present. At the same instance, a sickening smell hit him. It was putrid like something rotted, but it was mixed with something else, something metallic. Where is it coming from? He turned around, and looked in every direction. The platform seemed deserted, and there were certainly no trains running on these lines. More barking echoed through the subway. This time it was closer and accompanied by scratching and clawing. Instinctively, Spencer crouched down and shuffled close to the edge of the platform. The noise echoed all around him.
A moment later, and he knew where the smell and the noise was coming from. A metal door across from him flew open. It hit the wall, cracked several tiles, and ricocheted back, sending one of the dogs spiraling backwards. The others stood silent. Their red eyes glowed in the dimly lit corridor. There were at least ten of them by Spencer's estimation, and they all looked rabid, worse than rabid. Deranged. They raised their heads and sniffed at the air. Saliva and blood ran from their mouths. Almost in unison, they locked onto Spencer. He had been taught not to run away from dogs, but he couldn't contain his panic.
He jumped down onto the rails, and took off as fast as he could. It was even darker here, and the ground was uneven. It wasn't the rails, it was something else. It crunched beneath his feet. Soon he heard more crunching behind him. The dogs have jumped down.
Deep guttural sounds erupted behind him. The dogs howled and bayed. They were gaining ground. He could hear them on either side of him now, but he didn't dare look. He couldn't. He felt something grab onto his right leg. Knives dug into his calf, and in an instant he was down. He landed awkwardly, and realized the crunching was that of bones. There were broken bones everywhere. Some ground to powder, some cracked and splintered. The dogs were on him. They ripped out chunks of his flesh from head to toe. A thousand tiny blades did their work.
An electric tingle, an audible pop, he was floating. His body felt like it was on fire. He opened his eyes and quickly shut them again. The pain stabbed deep into his brain. He nearly passed out. A gasp, a kick, and his foot touched something hard. He stood and his head came up above the water. He opened his eyes. They still burned intensely, but he could make out a faint shoreline. He willed himself towards it, and collapsed on the sand. There were voices.
"We've got another floater, boss." The first voice was rough.
"Take him to decon." The second voice sounded resigned.
Spencer's flesh burned. It seemed to ooze. He tried to open his eyes and failed. He didn't know how many times he blacked out. At one point he thought he was in a van, the next he was stripped and strapped to a chair.
"Hose him," said the rough voice.
His body erupted in a shower of pain. Every nerve ending exploded, was cut open, sanded, then cut open again. A familiar tingle, a pop, and everything went away.
The burn left him, replaced by a dull throb. He knew he was sitting in a chair, but now he was clothed. He opened his eyes. Bright light. The lab! I'm back in the lab!
The intercom crackled to life.
"Okay, Spencer, initiating temporal displacement test alpha in three...two..."
"Wait. Don't push the button," said Spencer, but it was too late.


Josh Thornbrugh is an aspiring novelist living in northeast Oklahoma, otherwise known as Green Country, although lately it's been a little less green. He's been writing intermittently for the past several years as evidenced by his blog, Intermittent Writing. When he's not at his day job as a cartographer, Josh is usually spending time with his wife and children, playing with their rambunctious beagle, Gabby, or working on his fantasy novel. And yes, usually in that order.


  1. Thanks, Tara. It's a little more sci-fi than horror, but I guess it has enough creep factor to qualify as a horror story :)

  2. Very scary..I can see a movie from this..a very scary movie..Great job!

  3. Nice job Josh. Those deranged rabid dogs made me shiver. Yikes!

  4. Great job. Feeling sorry for poor Spencer.

  5. Very good SF tale, Josh. Being caught in a time loop would be a very frightening thing.

  6. Good job on this,Josh! This is a neat little piece!

  7. poor Spencer! nice one!


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