Friday, 24 May 2013

Quaternary Life - Friday Flash's Fourth Anniversary Blog Hop

                             


Friday Flash Dot Org, a body I owe a lot to in my writing development, is 4 years old having started in May 2009 (I first contributed in November 2009 and have since written about 140 flash stories). I've tried to kick the habit a couple of times as I return to writing novels, but always I come back to writing flash. Once the bug has bitten you...

So in honour of FFDO's 4th anniversary, they have organised a blog hop among their contributors and I am proud to be one such. A 400 word story (or thereabouts) on the theme of a 4th anniversary.

Thanks FFDO for all your tireless efforts on behalf of us writers and happy 4th Birthday!

*


The scrawny dog was lapping the water that had collected in the cracked tarmac. And thereby initiated the foreshortening of its life expectancy. Not that anyone was collating statistics and calculating averages anymore. Mutations were accelerating at a furious rate. New species, or variants on an old one at least, being created with every mouthful of toxic water. Evolution had never witnessed such a rapid turnover of progeny. All of them dead ends. With the emphasis on dead. As in extinct.

Dogs used to be aged in a calendar of their own. A multiplier of seven to equate to their human masters. Those who had betrayed them now. Telescoping seven years into seven days at the genetic level, as amino acid and protein whirled their totentanz tango with one another. Half-life? Existence wasn't even granted that bare fraction of life now.

The dog shook its head to banish those uningested droplets clinging to its maw. The fast growing tumour had already squatted in its jawbone, so that on the return swing of the skull, the protuberance interfered with its own proprioception. The dog lost its awareness of its own dimensions in space and toppled over under the alien weight. It pawed the air, swatting away the imaginary blowflies of Hell. The real cadaver flies having perished from earth, after their unremitting modern diet of irradiated flesh.

Humans too were stricken with the radical changes to their physiology. While their bodies managed to hold their overall integrity even with the cellular buboes, their brain chemistry fared less well. Memories in particular were sorely afflicted. Hence any human being barely maintained a sense of their own continued existence. Each new lesion or bone-sprouted contortion of their anatomy, combined with the loss of recollected self-image to mean humans couldn't remember themselves from the previous day. They were born anew each morn, though still possessed of the basic impulses to feed themselves and evacuate the waste.

Day may have followed interminable day, but there was no annual cycle. Crops and seasons had been outblasted and blighted by radiation. Sun and snow had slithered out of chronometry behind a wall of industrial fug. Day and night had split their differences and settled on a lugubrious energy saving greyness.

No human had the powers of recall to mark today as the fourth anniversary of the start of the war that had so spited the earth. Historians had been the first to lose their calling.


11 comments:

Beverly Fox said...

Oh, wow did that get dark quickly. I was caught a little off-guard because you paint a pretty harmless scene until the 4th sentence and then bam! Radiation, toxic variants, apocalypse.

This rings true of that lyrical last stanza of the famous Eliot poem Hollow Men- I could hear these mindless, mutated humans whimpering.

This one's gonna haunt me, Marc. Nice way to celebrate the 4th.
Happy anniversary!

John Wiswell said...

Very dark, but reasonably so for a spited planet. Almost a dog-eat-dog world.

Katherine Hajer said...

At first I thought there was antifreeze and other car-related pollutants in the water. Turns out it was worse than that.

Another elegantly black turning-out from you.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Wow, this is dark stuff. A truly chilling vision of the future.

Sonia Lal said...

wow. Dark. But an Interesting, if very depressing view of the future.

Helen said...

Dark and Scary and quite a depressing view of the future. I found this story on the blog hop page ^_^

Tony Noland said...

Terrible end to a noble race. Too bad about the humans, too.

ganymeder said...

Particularly liked the last line. Cool story!

Deanna Schrayer said...

I actually felt my stomach turn over Marc, great story!

Estrella Azul said...

Nice and dark, I liked it! Plus, that's a pretty sweet ending - historians being the first to lose their calling :)

Tim VanSant Writes said...

It's a "Those who cannot remember yesterday are condemned to repeat it." sort of thing. [Apologies to you and Santayana.]