A coffee-guzzling journalist turned novelist and occasional poet, Mark Cantrell lives and works by the weave of his words. By day, he works for a media company in Manchester, England, where he writes about the social housing industry. It provides plenty of fuel to keep the old social conscience simmering. The rest of the time, Mark chases the literary dream. He is the author of two novels, a host of short stories, and a multitude of articles and thought-provoking essays. Over the years, his writings have appeared in a number of small press 'zines, websites, and multi-author collections. His fictional work tends to fall into the realms of science fiction and fantasy, with a little macabre horror thrown in for good measure, but he's not averse to touching upon social and political themes too. That's certainly true of Mark's first novel, the dystopian science fiction thriller, Citizen Zero (Indie release, 2010), but it's also there, twisted into the DNA of his second, the macabre urban fantasy, Silas Morlock (Inspired Quill, 2013). Born and bred in Bradford, Mark now lives in Stoke-on-Trent, though he remains proud of his Yorkshire heritage.
One For The Road
Deadly Night Shade
Flash Fiction By Mark Cantrell
Copyright © January 2015
WHEN the world turned to dust, the last dolphin left the dying sea to crawl onto the beach of eternity. There she began to wail a lament for all of humanity's follies.
The creature, crippled outside of her watery home, nevertheless defied the crushing weight of her own flesh and dragged herself forward on her fins. 'Swimming' sand, she came to rest at the furthest reaches of the lapping waves and there in the moonlight she beheld the legacy of Man.
As she perceived the barren wasteland that long ago was once the fertile domain of her ancestors, the dolphin began to sing the sorrow of life-that-had-been on Earth.
The song took years to complete its mournful eulogy; far more years than a dolphin's span should last, but she sang her song beyond mortal redemption, and in time the last few humans heard her call and wept.
They knew sorrow, at last, these forlorn apes long-since torn from the African Eden that had birthed their kind. Drawn by the dolphin's sonorous cry, they emerged from the dust clouds inland to gather round the beached mammal, their distant kin.
The last of Man felt the dolphin's song deep inside, in their blood and bones, as it resonated and pierced their shrivelled souls. As one, they threw back their heads and cried at the heavens.
Tears of grief and mingled joy drenched their faces as the last of humankind sank to their knees, for here – at last – was one more creature to kill, one final opportunity for blood and mastery. After that, no meaning but regrets until the darkness claimed all that had once perceived itself the pinnacle of creation.
On their knees, still, these stragglers torn free of the tree of life beheld the dolphin and felt its song. The tears blurred their vision, but they had little need of clear sight to fulfil the purpose that had long steeped them to their very dying marrow.
The last humans raised their axes and machetes. The dolphin missed not a note of its song as the blades bit deep. Blood drenched the sand. It flicked from the notched and rusted implements rising and falling, biting muscle. The blood stained their ragged clothes, clotted hair and beards. It splattered and congealed on human faces, turning them into hideous masks of maddened rage in the stuttering glow of their burning torches, but still the dolphin sang.
Blow after blow sliced her meat, splintered bone, tore open her body until the viscera slithered free, but against all that was possible, still the dolphin clicked and wailed her memorial to Life and Earth.
As the humans wept for all that was lost, so they also bled. Blood seeped from their eyes, mingling with their tears. Crimson drops squeezed from the white-knuckled grip of hands and fingers rubbed raw and sore. From noses and ears, from mouths howling rage, they haemorrhaged the dregs of their existence.
Still the last of Man hacked at the hideously maimed form, huffing and grunting with the effort as they fulfilled the finality of their nature, weakening but feeling still the song pulsing in their veins, setting their senses afire.
One by one, they dropped, yet still the dolphin sang as the world around her, and the humans crumpled lifeless in the stained sand, turned to rot and dust.
The dolphin sang until she had no more sounds to make. She sang until her song was done. Her final note rang clear across the beach of eternity, piercing the shrouds of wind-born dust, to sing to the dwindling stars in the heavens, as the long night turned finally into day.
With that last lingering note, the dolphin died, her lament now done, and the sun of morning crawled over the horizon. Mangled flesh sloughed away in time, turned to dust as the dolphin returned to the Earth, and the sun saw what had been done in the light of its new day.
The dawn's red-tinged radiance set the crumbling, half-buried bones of long-dead Man aglow; it glinted from the damp remains that had once been the last of dolphin-kind. And in the blood-drenched sand beneath her gleaming bones, something stirred.
Life emerged from the sand. Something new: a creature untouched by the ruin of Man. The newborn crawled towards the light of life-that-would-be on Earth, multiplying and metamorphing as it left the barren beach of eternity behind.
And as it beheld a new Earth, cleansed of humanity's follies, so it began to sing a new song…
3 January 2015
Copyright (C) January 2015. All Rights Reserved.
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