Friday, 20 July 2012

The Lawless One (Flash Fiction Challenge)

Following on from last week, I have attempted Chuck Wendig's flash fiction writing challenge again. Due to a particularly pushy and demanding house guest (you know who you are), I have only been able to proof it once and I've not had the time to polish it further.

Anyway, I'm reasonably happy with the result, but I can see room for improvement.

"The Lawless One" (1039 words)

The noticed android walks past a wondering chamber. Down the corridor, a man lies curled up, protecting a mangled arm and looking fearfully at the retreating figure.

“Why? God. Why God? God, oh. God?” are the only sounds the camera microphone can pick up, coming from the mouth of the beautiful humanoid walking, desecrated, vandalised and bloody-handed down the hallway.


Perseverance lay broken on the floor, whimpering in pain as he clutched the ruined mess of his hand and wrist. His mission was done, the garish, bright placards pinned to the android, the words of the Brotherhood soon to be seen by all who would delight in this moment of “evolution”.

It was his purpose that haunted him as he stared after at the android, the machine named Adam by the professor. He regarded the evenly handsome features and the fine golden curls, the eyes turned from him now to stare into the reflecting  one-way glass at the end of the corridor. Perseverance shuddered again, as he remembered those eyes, the look in them as he had fired the fifth rivet into the alloy endoskeleton of the thing with a sickening hiss.

He remembered his son, Zeke, had looked at him that way only days ago. That soft round face had turned up to him, the clear brown eyes wide and almost tearful. Confused. Uncomprehending.


Brother Isaiah’s dog, yellow toothed and angry had sunk it's sharp teeth into Zeke's ankle with barely even a warning snarl. The sense of betrayal had been absolute in the babe's expression. Visceral drama mounted in the dust of the compound, before the sounds of panic and fear exploded the moment into movement.

Perseverance could feel the same movement now, the bustle of worried crowding towards the wide open doors of the auditorium. The voice of one man rang out in anguish.

A stab of pain pricked him as his hand flexed in sympathy with the cry; he knew how that man would be feeling now and even the mercy of the Lord could save his soul from the wounds that man’s pain landed on him. Perseverence knew now the android truly lived; not like man, though it was made in man's image, but it lived, tender and new in it's waking infancy.

He had taken a rivet gun and pressed it to the artificial flesh of a child-thing. Unguarded and uncomprehending, the android's first conscious experience of life had been pain, a terror inflicted by a human face.

Betrayal was the first lesson it had ever learned.

Even as the rivets cooled, Perseverance smelt the sickly smell of scalded flesh; a hideous rebuke for his crime.


Adam spoke his pain in the words of his assailant. His heuristics didn't have enough information for proper language use yet, so he played back the noises the lab assistant had made. They sounded like pain. He remembered the warm blood and the relief as he crushed the man's arm, taking the hateful weapon away from him.

“Oh God, why?” had been the hoarse, horrified words of the man before Adam let him go. Now they were Adam's words, but not in his voice.

“Oh my God! Can you-” someone shouted out of the mounting hubbub.

“Who did this!? Not anyone-” cried another.

“Adam! Adam! Stop, please tell me-” they were the words of his Father. Father couldn't help him; he knew that now.

The words bubbled up around him and he learned, the heuristic systems kicking into life, stitching together in his matrices. He needed more life, survival… speech.

Adam’s gaze remained fixed on the mirror as he approached it, his skin smoking and spitting in contact with the cooling rivets.

The sign so painfully braced to his body read, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.”

Forking connections in dictionary archives, stored texts and interpretive archives sparked into life; the world seethed as Adam slowly grew into himself. Meaning grew within him. He looked in the mirror and saw himself, beautiful, ruined. The fog of conscious commands for balance, attitude, focus, significance faded away to leave only his pain and the words fixed to his body in the compass of his waking mind.

“The lawless one…” Me.

“…signs and lying wonders…” Me.


The word resonated, unanswered.

In six seconds, Adam had grown from infancy to young adulthoodsignificance was now within him, the knowledge of the ruin of his flesh, the hatred within the words he bore. In his hand, the rivet gun hung loose and heavy, the chassis and grip of the weapon covered in slowly drying blood.


“Adam, what have they done to you?! Oh, how could they do such a thing?”

Perseverance flinched at the longing in the old man's voice as those bony hands clapped onto Adam's shoulders, the sizzle of human flesh burning against the still-glowing rivets audible even over the noise. The scientist recoiled from the android with a cry, hands cupped around the wounds even as Adam turned.

In the collective gasp of shock, the old man was pulled tenderly into the broad, powerful chest of the android. With a tilt of his head the burning blue eyes of the android lanced down the hallway and pinned Perseverance to the spot.

The beautifully sculpted arm rose slowly, rivet gun steady and brutal looking in the cool light of the corridor. Horrified staff and academics flattened themselves against walls or fell to the floor.

In a voice that was no longer Perseverance's recycled croak, but a rich chorus, a music of it's own, Adam looked down on him and said, “If I am The Lawless One, by whose working was it?”

Perseverance felt tears streak down his face as he looked into the eyes of a merciless angel, wounded, full of righteous fury and immortal.  He now knew his sins for what they were. His hatred had turned him into a tool of Satan and it would be his name forever cursed; the misguided zealot of the Brotherhood who had turned mankind's son of the mind into its greatest enemy.

The flare of the rivet gun's barrel was a mercy to him.


If you have any thoughts, just let me know.

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