The Moonlit Path

Flash Fiction is back. This week, Chuck had us write Something That Scares You.

So this is something that scares me.

You know how drugs feel great?

No, you probably don’t. I don’t either – never tried any. But I hear they’re great, addictive. That’s what some fears are like, almost. They’re problems masquerading as solutions. And so you never give yourself the time to think about them and confront them.

*

You’ve got yourself, you’ll be alright, something whispers at my shoulder.

There’s a grey glow to the world around me, as if I’m the star of a black and white movie. But there’s no moon, only the trees and stones and cloudless but starless sky. The darkness isn’t so much oppressive as it is claustrophobic; I’m on a long and wide path and yet I don’t think I can move. I look down, but my feet aren’t chained.

My body might look free, but I’m trapped inside it.

It’s an odd feeling, being trapped inside your own body. I’ve always imagined it as a purely poetic conceit, designed to convey some sort of outsider status, some self-identification as the Other, and in doing so create your own space, one in which you rule. It’s the same kind of irony that motivated the guys who invented Facebook so that they didn’t have to socialise. You can’t escape your reality, so you just create a new one.

But I know that what I’m experiencing right now isn’t reality, and that’s why I probably don’t sound afraid. This is just a nightmare. People think nightmares scare you, but they don’t. What scares you is remembering the nightmare – they act like alarm clocks, waking you up to whatever fear they want until the next nightmare arrives.

I haven’t had this one before, it’s new. But it’s probably some same old fear. That’s the way things work, right? You fail, you try a different approach.

Anyway, this is actually quite a nice scene. The horror imagery is too obvious, makes it almost slapstick. Like someone decided to make me a virtual reality horror film but with a really poor budget. I might as well take a walk while I’m here.

I seriously love walks. They’re like some kind of therapy, for me. It’s that idea of being with nature – and, believe it or not, I don’t mean that in an ironic or sardonic way. I’m genuinely a nature lover, but I don’t know anyone else who is.

It’s easy to fall in love with nature. Probably because it doesn’t have to fall in love with me, because it can’t break my heart.

I’ll admit it. That one was a little twee. ‘Break my heart’?

But I’m prone to bouts of sentimentality. In fact, I’m kinda sentimental about sentimentality. That’s why I meant what I said about the whole love thing. It’s true. Everyone’s like that on some level. We all only truly love people who love us back. That’s not a wrong thing – you can’t keep loving someone who doesn’t love you back, the pain would be unbearable – it just hurts when someone doesn’t feel the same way, like a pinprick, letting you move away from that pin.

It’s a relief really.

I’ll be honest, though, the place I’m in might look okay in this dark glow, but there’s no wind, no movement, and it just brings me back to that point – I know this isn’t reality. It’s not nature, just some fake thing, a poor imitation, like one of those parody plays-within-a-play. Except this is my head within my head, and I even I can’t wrap my head around that one.

The walk down the path doesn’t reveal anything of interest, but I still want to stay here, to try and find something original for me to think about.

I know we’ve come a long way before getting to this point, but my mind’s a wanderer, I daydream a lot, so I’m just going to address it now. Yes, I’m lucid dreaming. And yes, I’m aware that I’m lucid dreaming. What does that make it, lucid lucid dreaming? Meta-lucid dreaming? I’m sure there’s some name for it. There’s a name for everything.

The whisper is back. Keep talking all you want. You won’t get out of here.

It’s kinda frustrating, how bland its evil is.

“What are you?” I ask. It whispers something, but I don’t catch it – a crack appears in the ground, and I’m falling, waking up, looking around, there’s no one, I’m just in the dark; I’m alone.

There’s a word in my brain, an echo from the dream.

Loneliness.

I don’t know what it said that for. When I asked the question in the dream, I wasn’t talking to the whisper.

I was talking to you.

I guess you didn’t hear me.

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3 thoughts on “The Moonlit Path

  1. Nice take on the prompt! I love stream-of-consciousness style stories, they just flow so well and organically. It was the twist at the end that really made me smile (in a said, “ahh yes,” sort of way, though.)

    However, I would disagree with something you said in your intro, about not giving yourself time to confront your fears (unless you were using the personal “you” as a way of distancing yourself, rather than the generic “you = everybody” of the audience). Sometimes, when you fear something so greatly, you can think about it so much that it consumes you, controlling your life. And yes, that’s the personal you = I “you”. Everybody’s different in how they deal with fear, of course. That’s just my experience.

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading it!
      While this is about my own fear and written in the first person, I saw it as me writing in the voice of a character. What I was trying to get at with that “you” was, kind of like you said, distancing the character from his own personal shortcomings. It was about the irony of the character, or hypocrisy depending on how you look at it. The idea was that it connects to the end when he clearly knows what the problem is but isn’t attempting to do anything about it. I agree with you that great fear can consume you, but as I was writing this I got the sense that the character was purposely avoiding his fear, which I tried to emphasise with all of those digressions throughout, almost like he is doing everything he can to stay away from facing that reality.

      Like

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