Monday, 25 July 2016
Signed, Sealed And Delivered - Flash Fiction
He’d been prompted to watch out for a sign. But where? Whither the co-ordinates? Was he supposed to roam outside or to remain embosomed in his room? The exegesis hadn’t been clear. Currently he was stationed in his room, scrutinising the everyday for deviation from the familiar. Was the sign to be something inherently meaningful, or something that only he could ascribe substance to? Would it be a material object, or something based in language. Be it script or runic? Did that perhaps make it more of a symbol than a sign?
He had never noticed that stain on the carpet before, but he couldn’t accept that ancient spilled coffee or the gravy that broiled his pre-cooked dinners, suddenly became presentimental. An accidental Rorschach pattern somehow transmuted into a figuration of his future, no he doubted that was the likely source. Carelessly slopped aliment was no waters of the Nile turning into blood and somewhat lacked the wondrousness of a burning bush.
He glanced up to the wall and the framed print suspended there. It had come with the rental, left by a previous tenant, or more likely to have been furnished by the landlord. An abstract piece of nothing, though right now its contours were welling and pulsing with significance. He had never previously paid it much mind. Of course the swirls themselves were not in motion, but he wondered if the picture itself had perhaps moved ever so slightly off its habitual axis. He approached it and gingerly rubbed his index finger along one plane of the frame. He examined the dust that coated the pad, like a police fingerprint record, a glyph in itself, but decided this was the wrong type of indicia. After all fingerprints themselves never changed over the course of one’s life. He was on the wrong track there, a hallmark was a permanent symbol not a momentously exigent one. He lifted the frame from its hook, examined the cork backing but found no message welted in there. He stared at the burnished rectangle patch of wall where the print had covered and preserved the paintwork. If it was a symbol it remained opaque to him. A blank TV screen with the set switched off.
Maybe that was it, the random permutation of TV programme thrown up at him when he first engaged its ignition. An advert for a product, a TV evangelist, the score of a soccer match or the stock exchange ticker tape scrolling a key coded set of numerals across the bottom of the screen, any one of those could hold the key. Hastily he replaced the picture's string over the hook and bounded over to spark the set into life. But a lame comedy series was what first met his eyes, not even one with a star who had subsequently been prosecuted for crimes enacted on the back of his celebrity. His digits played over the remote control, quickly rifling through the channels’ formulaic liturgical burnt offerings. He slitted his eyes narrower trying to detect any subliminals from the quick change from channel to channel but nothing was delivered up to him for revelation.
A fluttering wrenched his attention upward to the ceiling. A moth was battering at his Chinese lantern shade in its determination to burrow through the red hot light source within. The lantern barely rippled under its bantamweight thrust, but he did notice the shadow of both projected large on the ceiling. Blown up several times their actual size. And yet he himself cast no shadow in the room. Was that the sign? His own lack of a shadow, yet here was an insect larva feasibly from Satan’s own realm cast large in the artificial glow from hell’s fires? He tilted the paper shade to admit access for the moth to the bulb which it obligingly did so and perished with a pleasing sizzle against the scorching glass. He watched its Icarian descent to the floor whereupon it landed right in the middle of the carpet stain, just at the moment when the TV announced a newsflash and the picture on the wall slithered drunkenly to the diagonal on its axis. A multitude of signs, but which one was the true indicator?