Free Extreme Fiction

Aroma-1

    Fifteen-year-old Robin Tyler knew he had to be dreaming, but it seemed so real.
    He stood on the deck of a glittering crystal starship. Beyond the starship there was only darkness centerpieced by a single, white star.
    "What is that?" he asked the empty room, not really expecting an answer. "Where am I?"
    "You are at the beginning of time," replied a voice from nowhere and everywhere at once. "That is the beginning of the Universe."
    "M-My Universe?"
    "As there are an infinite number of futures, so there are an infinite number of pasts. The answer to your question is both yes and no."
    "But wh-what am I doing here? Why have you brought me here?"
    "For...this."
     "My god."
    From the blackness emerged an even deeper blackness. At first Robin couldn't make out what it was he was looking at, but then, as it drew closer, it took on a form, a substance, a solidity as it swam, as it undulated, as it soared through the void until it reached the single star. It was some kind of bird, a crow or a raven of some kind. Now Robin was completely confused. He lost all sense of perspective. If that star was all there was to the Universe then it had to be massive, had to be several trillion times bigger than any star he'd ever seen before, yet here was this bird hovering over it so that the star reminded Robin of an egg, its egg.
    Therefore, Robin had to be dreaming.
    Yet it seemed so real.
    And then Robin was reminded of something else. He was reminded of a time when he was much younger and was downtown with his mother shopping. He used to love that, just his mom and him, just Robin and Toni Tyler, browsing, chit-chatting, stopping for a tuna melt and some lemonade at a sidewalk cafe. There were so few times when it was just the two of them, even though she was a single mother and Robin was an only child. Toni Tyler hated to be alone, so when she didn't have a boyfriend over at their home she had just friends over, and if that wasn't possible she'd get on the phone and just blab, blab, blab all day and all night if she could. In spite of this neglect, or maybe because of it, Robin adored her. He loved to watch her after she first woke up in the morning, padding around on their carpet in her bathrobe and slippers, her eyes swollen nearly shut from lack of sleep and the partying she'd done the night before. He loved her easy, joking manner with companions. At night, as he drifted off to sleep, he loved to hear her laughter from downstairs in the living room, especially when it wasn't just a polite chuckle but a gut laugh from the deepest part of her, from a soul that loved to laugh more than anything else in life. That's what Robin most liked to do, make his mother laugh, make her laugh from deep within her soul. That's what he was doing on that day they were downtown together, trying to make her laugh.
    And then Adam saw him, the man he would see only once, would only catch a glimpse of, but would never forget.
    He was sniffing roses in front of a florist's, this man. He was tall and thin, and he was bent over so that he could drive his nose right into the petals of the beautiful flowers. In spite of the hot weather, he wore a gray three-piece suit with a matching gray tie, and no one was giving him a second glance, yet even at that there was something about him, something so evil, so malevolent, that Robin felt like crying out just from the mere sight of him. Robin grabbed his mother's arm so tight she yelped, and he pointed and yelled, "Mom! Look!" but she said, "Honey, what?" because by that time the man had seemingly disappeared into thin air. Robin looked everywhere but couldn't see him. Still, for years after that, every nightmare Robin ever knew seemed filled with this man's presence, the stink of this man's wickedness, the aroma of his horror.
    And now, finally, the man had returned, this time in the form of a monstrous black bird. The bird was thousands of light years away, it had to be, the star that was the Universe had to be at least that far away, and yet the bird looked up, and Robin swore that the creature looked coldly into his eyes, in fact past his eyes right into his very soul. Robin felt the need to turn his head, to turn away from the piercing gaze, but he found that he couldn't. What he felt was beyond fear. Yes, for the first time in his life, Robin knew what the word terror truly meant.
    Oh God, please, let this be a dream, he prayed. Oh please, oh please, oh please.
    And then the bird held high its head, and in silent space it CAAWWWWWED, causing Robin's ears to hurt with its high-pitched intensity. A ray of black energy then sprang from the underside of the winged being, hitting the white star right at its center, and then Robin screamed because then the Universe filled with bits of glowing light,and those bits of light came right at him, fast, fast, and the starship he stood in dissolved, and shards from the splintering starship ripped away Robin's flesh. He felt no pain, and yet he watched as all the flesh from his outstretched left hand got sliced away in bloody strips leaving only bone behind. He went to scream again and found that he no longer could, there was no longer any air to breathe, and now he could see nothing but bright white light and one other thing, his other hand, his right hand. For some reason, he could make it out plainly in spite of all the brightness. This hand, too, was outstretched, although it looked relatively unharmed.
    Then: whap! Something as silvery and bright as the Universe-star itself caught Robin's ring finger, and that did hurt. It hurt worse than getting slapped in the face by his stepfather, hurt worse than getting hit in the nuts by a hardball. It hurt worse than he'd ever imagined pain could be. Time seemed to slow, seemed to flow like lava rather than rush like a river so that Robin very, very slowly watched this minute bit of starstuff hit his finger, and, rather than slice it off, surround his finger and cling to his finger so that it reminded Robin of a...of a...
    ...of a ring.   

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