The Last Laugh
Flash Fiction | Dark Science Fiction
I’ve had this imagery in my head since 2010, but I was never quite sure how to write it or what it would even be about. The working title was “Visceral” and it originated with a slightly different premise. However, I like this new version much better. I attribute the creation of this story to Simon K Jones for motivating me to be less afraid about publishing ideas, and Anthony Lora for his quality flash fiction which inspired me sit down to write this piece.
It’s a gut instinct to want to run when you’re afraid. But what if you have nowhere to go?
The hunk of frozen rock on which we’ve landed is ninety-two meters in length, and hollow from the looks of it. It was supposed to be devoid of life and chock-full of precious minerals, the scanner had said as much. Turns out scanners can’t detect otherworldly entities crossing over into our universe. So here I am, trapped on an icicle from Hell with the rest of my crew dead or dying, the shuttle inoperable.
Communications are fried. I wave both arms in wide arcs toward the Nautilus in hopes that they’ll send rescue. They are likely debating the morality of the situation: the choice to save one or risk everyone. I know what I’d do if I were on their side of the air lock, but I’m powerless to resist the deep-rooted will to survive.
My helmet’s glass fogs up as I feel it moving beneath my boots. I look down through the semi-translucent, frosted surface to see tendrils writhing like octopus limbs. When the entity invokes its spell upon me, I can’t help but to briefly wonder how the ice remains intact.
At first I don’t feel anything. That’s because at first the warmth is comforting. Then the sweat begins to trickle down my brow. My undergarments inside the humid suit grow soppy, clinging to my skin. I can’t move, not any more. The rubber soles of my boots have melted to the chilled rock.
Deep down I want to scream, to let out all of my fear and pain and hatred in one violent, defiant yell. It’s one thing to have a desire, but to have the ability to follow through is another thing entirely, especially when your insides are being liquified by focused radiation.
A flash erupts from the Nautilus and grows brighter as the projectile heads my way. They’ve made the right choice. I smile with blistered lips and bleeding gums. A faint rush of air expels from my collapsing lungs.
There’s something exhilarating about getting the last laugh, even when you know it is your last.