Happy Sunday my friends,
This week has been busy and found me at a rehabilitation centre for kids. There I met a wonderful team of people working hard looking after a mixture of day and boarding kids, all of whom have learning difficulties caused by disability, autism or just the effect of a tough harsh life. The week was tough, emotional and rewarding. Yet again I feel blessed by my experiences in this wonderful, harsh, beautiful, poor country.
Rather than skip a week’s blog I decided to share a flash fiction story of 500 words that reflects my sombre but hopeful mood.
“God help me.” Jason beseeched the black domed ceiling. “I didn’t know I needed a defence.” Jason collapsed on the floor, curling into the foetal position seconds before two impassive grey cloaked monks pulled him up again.
“Number 4206 – ten minutes.” The tinny microchip voice came from everywhere.
Jason swung round staring at the twelve 80” monitors lining the black wall of the circular room, six red above six white. The red monitors playing images from his life, each selected to depict him badly.
Aged nine, his hand retreating from his sleeping grandmother’s purse with a fistful of coins. Aged fourteen, his features frozen in hatred and violence, bunched fist ready to smash into the already bloody face of the other boy.
“What have I got to lose?” Jason muttered as he stumbled over to the nearest screen, absently swiping away the snot running freely from his nose. “I may as well put my side of the story.”
He donned the headset and the blank white monitor responded immediately, reading his tumbled thoughts.
Jason squeezed his eyes shut remembering …
“What did you say Digby?” fourteen year old Jason spat.
“Your Ma.Slut, whore …” Stuart Digby never finished the sentence. The impact of the final punch exploded into his face.
Jason threw off the headset, the image of his counter memory frozen on the screen. His mother lying in bed, cancer coursing through her body, the bloodied Jason tenderly feeding her soup, his eyes haunted.
“Come on Ma, it’s your favourite, one more spoonful.”
He quickly repeated the process at four of the remaining white monitors, each recording his version of the negative images portrayed.
He glanced at the last, himself aged nine curled in bed kicking the Darth Vader toy away as if its touch burned him, his body shuddering racked with tears.
“I wish I hadn’t. I wish I hadn’t taken Grandma’s money.”
“Number 4206 – two minutes.”
Jason turned to the final image. Afghanistan, him in uniform, his foot on the prone body of a boy and the muzzle of his rifle centred on his forehead. The boys’ big black eyes were unblinking, frozen in fear and locked onto Jason’s vacant blue stare.
“I’m a soldier for Christ’s sake. I follow orders.”
The final white screen held the image of the boy’s ravaged head exploding at impact. No excuse. He discarded the headphones and turned to the monks.
“Finished.” He said flatly. They nodded in unison. The twelve screens came alive, images flashing and blinking, fast forwarding, stopping, rewinding. The room became a cauldron of Jason’s life as he stood with the monks either side of him, waiting – his heart heavy with the weight of his life. He hung his head in shame. Life’s defence.
A blinding white light crashed down engulfing Jason. Smelling smoke and fire – he looked down resignedly into the jaws of hell.
“Enter my friend.” Jason looked up, disbelieving, into the face of St Peter.