Bryan Beal

Exhibit of Tragedy

Never look at the flash, they said.

They assumed it would come from one direction. When it came, the entire sky was a white, searing flash of neon agony. Somehow, the big dude in front of me absorbed enough the of energy that I only got burnt into a raw, red mass of dripping flesh and skin. It took a few seconds to cough his ashes out of my throat and mouth. Looking at my hands was a mistake. I fought to keep the terror down. It was a losing fight.

I staggered from the shattered remains of my small office. The wave slammed me back through the empty doorway into the wall opposite. Nails of agonised fury raged into my nerves. I felt nothing but rusty metal scrape every nerve-ending in my back as I collapsed into the floor.

Blessed unconsciousness never came.

One came through the doorway, savage weapon scanning the room like they had not even begun to slaughter. Whatever it used to see fixed on me with a jolt. Like it was not expecting anyone. It took three strides to close the space between us. Silently, it squatted down next to me and peered at me. Its face was mere inches from mine. I was in too much pain to bother protesting. Even a mutter was beyond me.

One of its six fingers extended, covered in a dark suit. The tip gently prodded the raw, bloody flesh where the skin had been torn away. I screamed in agony. The finger jerked back. The person (a question mark there) looked around, searching for something. It turned back to me and the head tilted to one side.

I heard a rapid staccato of clicks and whirs. Its face moved even closer to me and the same sounds were repeated.

“English.”, I murmured.

It's finger touched one of the few patches of skin I had left. That still hurt. Then I felt nothing. I could move nothing. My heart still pulsed and I was breathing, but that was the entirety of my world.

After a time, maybe an eternity, I heard more faint clicks and whirs. There were different voices. I slowly tried to open my eyes. I was behind some type of glass. I was still burnt and red, but there was no pain. Those looking at me pointed fingers and chattered furiously.

Below me, there was a small hologram that had something like writing on it. Some of the people looked at it while they glanced at me. Many of them gave me the same head tilt I had seen in Sydney. I soon learnt about the pity that tilt signified. A pity for the arrogance of a species that was long gone. Except for one.

#SciFi #ShortStory