Short Fiction

Trip to St. Vitus

Pine-Sol slipped up his nostrils before he was awake. The strong, clean scent was good. Burned a bit, made his nose twitch in the slumber of early morning, toward the end of night’s sleep. But it smelled good, and it made him feel good about the cleanness of the air he breathed, still half dreaming. It was reassuring.

He didn’t open his eyes, though through his lids he could make out the first of the morning light spilling in through the bedroom window. He allowed himself to ease back into dozing with the reassuring scent of the Pine-Sol growing ever stronger.

He didn’t know how long he’d been back asleep when he heard it, but when he did, its pitch and intensity startled him awake. It was an air raid siren from the Second Great War—only louder. Or a tornado warning siren outside Topeka, only shriller. It was so loud it was surely maiming his eardrums.

The Pine-Sol was stronger than ever, but it was unnoticeable with the unbearable sound in his ears. He tried to wake himself, but he couldn’t. He thought if he moved an arm, perhaps to the side of the bed where it would fall toward the floor, perhaps then he would awaken from the movement. But his arm was heavy. Heavy as a bag of sand bought to fill a child’s sand box. He could not move it. He could not budge it. He was trapped in his wakeful sleep, terrified...

(Caravel Literary Journal, 2016)

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© Greg Stidham  2016