Free Flash Fiction:
By: Jae El Foster
December 2, 2018
When he closed his eyes, he was dead. When he opened them again, he was very much alive.
Tannis Tucker had perished in an automobile accident on his way to work. When he awoke, he remembered none of it, and as time passed, his only memories of the accident and the happenings in the years before and right after it seemed like memories created only by what others had told him.
Quite aware of his surroundings, Tannis knew that his life since his accident had been – well – not quite right. He began to weave together weird puzzles that he’d find, things that didn’t add up, and things that seemed of momentary convenience. Whenever he would begin to put the pieces to this mysterious puzzle of his life together, there would be a distraction – something to throw Tannis off of the train of thought he’d been on, leading him astray from discovering an ultimate truth.
Tannis had no idea what that ultimate truth was, but he had a feeling that he would soon find out.
On his way to the grocery store one night, his mind went blank and he stopped in the middle of the road, blocking highway traffic from both sides. Within inches of hitting him, the oncoming vehicles stopped, without incident, and Tannis’s life had been spared.
At a party some time before that, Tannis took a drug that was meant to sooth him, but it was not what he’d been told. Nonetheless, his body rejected it and he vomited it up madly – the only person to do so of all that had taken the drug. He believed that had his body not rejected the drug, he would have died.
Tannis was convinced by these occurrences that an outside source was keeping him alive. He believed that he could not be killed – that death was not an option for him, as something… or someone would not let him die.
With this realization, Tannis believed he was also being forced to make up for past mistakes – things that he’d done before the wreck. Things that he no longer remembered.
Life began crawling on him – reflections of his past that attacked him by draining him of his sanity, by inflicting paranoia upon him and making him fearful of the outside world… worried that something would come to take him away. These occurrences of life’s sharp blade began slicing through him more often, causing his hands to tremble and his body to quiver. His became mentally chaotic, constantly checking outdoors to ensure that he was alone. It was sucking the life from him, albeit keeping him alive.
As his mind fell into further collapse, Tannis dropped down to his knees in tears, having grown exhausted from this game of cat and mouse. He closed his eyes and crossed himself and begged for understanding – for an explanation to his perils. He pleaded as he prayed, hoping for a realization that would lift him up from his emotionally withered life.
“Hell,” he whispered, standing once he’d given up. “I’m in Hell.”
“No…” replied a voice so subtle that it had to have come from his own mind. “You are in Purgatory…”
Tannis trembled at the words that spoke to him in a tone so unearthly that it petrified him.
“You are here,” the voice continued, “in an illusion of your former life as your fate is decided for you…”
“My fate?” he questioned, swallowing through a lump in his throat.
“Heaven,” replied the voice, “or Hell…”
“Why… why am I being drained?” Tannis questioned pleadingly. “Why am I going crazy?”
“The longer it takes to evaluate you, the more of your soul I consume…”
As the voice faded from Tannis’s mind, he became visually aware of the Soul Eater – the dark form that was attached to his shadow. Watching his shadow, Tannis walked across the room, and as his shadow moved, so did the dark mass attached to it.
“Let me feel your fear,” the Soul Eater whispered once more in his mind. “Only through me can your torment end…”
Tannis tried to outrun it – for days and weeks, even into months and years – but no matter where he turned, the black mass was there… the Soul Eater was always there. It fed on him through tragedy and heartache, through financial struggle and collapse, and through ailing health and loss of senses. It fed on Tannis until there was nothing left but an apparent shell, freed of the soul that had inhabited it – a soul that, having been fully devoured by the Soul Eater, no longer existed anymore. He was gone, unable to be claimed by Heaven or Hell… his shell left to rot in Purgatory until it turned to dust and flew with the breeze.
Copyright Jae El Foster, 2018