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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Xenophobia

I just entered a flash fiction contest with the following piece.  There were four rules: (1) maximum of 200 words; (2) the title had to start with the letter 'x'; (3) it had to contain the phrase "nothing left to" somewhere; and (4) it had to have some connection to a photograph of a flooded city street.  The rather outr√© story that follows is what resulted.

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Xenophobia


Nothing left to do.  I finished sandbagging today.  I can’t get out.  The highway’s submerged except for a “No U-turn” sign, sticking above the water as if there were cars to warn.

It’s still raining.

They’ve tracked me for years, since the scuba diving trip in Belize.  They almost got me that day, but I made it to shore, turned and looked – and saw fifty pairs of eyes, half-hidden in the surf, saying: Don’t think you’ve escaped.  You haven’t.

I’ve seen them many times since.  I thought it was only oceans, until I saw one watching me from a river as I crossed a bridge.  It was submerged like a crocodile, only its unblinking eyes and the top of its head visible, long hair swirling in the current.  I kept walking, didn’t look back.  Don’t let them know you’re afraid.

I thought I was safe, a thousand miles from the ocean, no rivers, lakes, ponds nearby.  But now water is seeping through the sandbags, lapping against my door.

I sit, shotgun across my lap, as night falls.  Their eyes reflect the streetlight’s glow.  There must be a hundred of them out there, waiting until the water comes in.

I’m ready for them.

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