WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part eight, SECOND FIG, is below.
The great idea — the one single great idea Fig had ever had was that none of this was happening. Of course he couldn’t prove it, seeing as he and everyone else was stuck in the same illusion. Through stillness, maybe. Through transcendence. But how does one transcend?
He stopped writing and looked up at the clock – after three, yet noise still carried on outside and downstairs. Perhaps getting out of time was the way to do it, but how the hell did that happen? Or walking through glass – he wondered if he could walk through one of the tall windows that faced out to Pen Boulevard.
He went back to scribbling, tried to jot down as much as he could before the thought was gone. Things came and went like that, especially in a world that wasn’t happening, where nothing existed including himself, the paper, the pen with which he was writing.
“So why write at all?” he said out loud. He stopped and looked up again. Someone was knocking. He ignored it. Then there was another one, accompanied with a shout.
He walked around from his booth and saw Syl at the main doors. Her face was nondescript, a blurry mix of pain, chemical imbalance and anxiety.
“I just jacked my ankle,” she said. She limped in and put her arms around Fig to keep from falling.
“The curb. I need to piss.”
“Restrooms – ”
“I know where the toilets are at, jackass. I can’t make the stairs.”
Fig helped her through the restaurant and into the kitchen. There was a standalone shower back there where the cooks rinsed off. Mostly it was for ringing mops. Fig walked her over. She dug her nails into his forearm and squatted.
“Are you gonna stare or what?”
“Sorry.” He looked the other way until he heard the trickle stop. Then he helped her up and walked her back to his booth.
“Nice setup for the nighttime janitor,” she sneered. “Glass of beer, roach in the ashtray. It’s a regular party in here.”
“I get by.”
“And what if our boss came in?”
“He never has.”
“What’s the point? None of us are here anyway.”
She didn’t know what he was talking about.
“I’m quitting in a month,” he went on.
“Career I guess.”
Syl slapped the table.
“I’ll find it when I find it.”
She rolled her eyes and took a cigarette from his pack. Then she opened his notebook. Fig’s hand jerked to grab it. Then he remembered nothing was real. So he stopped. She was too drunk to read anyway.
“I need something to calm me down,” she said. “You got any ideas?”
Fig glanced at the ashtray roach.
“I mean something that’ll really knock me out.”