Today is National Flash Fiction Day. I will be hosting a flash slam in Oxford to celebrate. I have also been judging flash fiction – for a super League of Extraordinary Authors competition – you can see my shortlist here and comment on your favourites.
And to celebrate in style, I’ve written my first flash of the year:
You are dreaming of narwhals again.
Last time it happened you woke at 2.56 am and scribbled “John of
Patmos, your eschatology lacks narwhals” on a post-it and when you found
it in the morning you were so pleased by the line, even though you
didn’t have a clue what it meant, that you wrote a poem around it for a
slam that night and everyone laughed at you but not in that “you’ve just
said something really superficial but I’m going to wet myself because
you said cock. Or Rebekah Brooks. Or Rebekah Brooks’ cock” way that
people do at slams.
A part of you is trying to remind the you that’s immersed in the
dream that the narwhals have not been channelled from the spirit world
just to become part of your new masterpiece but of course the dreaming
you tells that you to shut the fuck up and it does so so loudly you
wake, confused, and scrawl on the bedside table in capitals with a
THE NARWHALS ARE NOT A METAPHOR
You fall back to sleep and find yourself in a dark room. A chandelier
comes on and winks gaudily at you and you realise you are at the edge
of the swimming pool from THAT scene in the Joan Collins film The Bitch.
The pool is filled with the writhing bodies of copulating narwhals
crying out as they orgasm
“If we’re a metaphor then so are you. You are a metaphor for the
climate change that’s destroying our way of life. Just look at us. Look
at the fin de siècle decadence you’ve brought upon us. Look at our
horns! We’re Cetacean Dirk Digglers and the 80s are coming!!”
At an existential level you cannot accept the horror of these once
innocent creatures descending into orgiastic drug abuse, shoulder pads
and Reaganomics and all in a Paul Thomas Anderson film that’s not
Magnolia so you place your hands on your ears. You are still screaming
THE NARWHALS ARE NOT A METAPHOR
When you wake, miles from anywhere, and you run home screaming,
stopping only to steal a bible from a Christian bookshop because the
talk of the fin de siècle has made you want to read the Book of
That evening, calmer, you mutter through a performance of Rhinoceros
“Fuck you, Ionesco, if my narwhals had been metaphors mine would have
been a far better play than yours because mine would have had paddling
On the way home, two politicians you recognise from the news drag you
into an alley. As their boots lay into you, you wait for them to turn
into horned creatures of some kind, but they don’t. As you are taking
your last breath the pain stops and you see the most wonderful sight.
Dipping your toe in the water, you look back one last time, laugh in the
politicians’ faces and cry
“John of Patmos, your eschatology lacks narwhals”
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