Flash Fiction Extra: Figment of the Imagination

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Sunday Scribblings. It is not part of the novel and it contains no spoilers. I've embedded links to spoiler-free supplemental information, where appropriate. Be sure to drop by Sunday Scribblings for more fun!

“If it’s not all about me, who else should our survival be about? Those useless brats back at the hotel? A smart guy only looks out for Number One.”

Galahad shrugged. He was used to this kind of talk from David, although he had never managed to figure out how much of it was real and how much was bluster. “You’re not the only person in the universe.”

“How do you know?” David leaned toward him across the aisle of the battered hotel shuttle. “You could be a figment of my imagination.” He gestured toward a window. “Maybe everything is.”

“You’d have to be pretty sick to have dreamed up the pandemic.”

“Maybe so, but how do you know for sure I didn’t?”

Galahad thought of the ravaged city, empty of adults and devoid of food deliveries, clean water and electricity. He thought of the half-feral children and teenagers who preyed on those who would be more civilized. For someone of David’s temperament, it wasn’t such a bad place. “I could see you coming up with something like this.”

David leaned back on the ripped vinyl seat with an air of satisfaction. “So, you see, it really is all about me: you, the city, every last deranged, filthy bit of it. In fact—

The shuttle hit a pothole and lurched to one side.

“Watch where you’re going,” David shouted.

Jimmy, the driver, had been listening to their conversation, and he met David’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “I’m just a figment of your imagination, remember? Maybe you should watch where we’re going.”

Galahad laughed and David folded his arms across his chest and slumped back in his seat. “Just you wait.”

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Old Egg said...

How many times in real life have we said "This can't be real," having got into a situation that is rocketing out of control. This piece made me think of it straight away.

I'm glad we are getting a picture from the "other" side from the feral kids.

Enjoying your work.

Alice Audrey said...

David only seems to be suited to that world. In the end (of the book) he takes stupid chances.

Gemma Wiseman said...

A sense of holocaust or nuclear wasteland where there are new kinds of raw normality! A normality that doesn't quite have an identity! Interesting piece of writing!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Poor David. This hit him so hard ... and yet at the same time, the other kids adapt so easily, it's almost hard to believe that David's reaction is possibly the one I'd expect more kids to have...

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

@Susan: One of the things I wanted to show in the novel was the wide range of coping mechanisms kids (or anyone, really) would employ in a situation like this. Escapism, religious fanaticism, drugs and alcohol, power bids, nihilism, and even practicality (of all things) seemed like logical possibilities. A lot of kids didn't survive at all.

David was an angry young man even before the Telo. He had nothing in his background to make him want to become someone better. I've come to feel sorry for him in a way, and I think Leila could've eventually brought out the good in him, but it wasn't meant to be. Oh well. I guess I'm just a mean author. ;-)

Dee Martin said...

almost missed this one - glad I didn't :) David is a great bad guy, more real for the hint of goodness that you can see in him, just around the edges.