The Chaos Orchestra


A thunderstorm sweeps in over the foothills. Lightning sets fire to several firs clinging to a sandstone cliff above town. All the lights go out. Rain beats against roofs, windows, doors. Inside the church at the center of town, a man with a stocking pulled over his head begins to pull bell ropes. Fire spreads through the hills. He smiles at the church custodian, bound and gagged, slumped beneath the belfry window.

Everything is going according to plan: first, he’d thrown turtle shells into glowing ash, interpreted the cracks as time lines; then, blindfolded, he’d thrown darts at a map of the world; and finally, he’d drawn cards from a deck illustrated with every musical instrument known to man.

He doesn’t wonder what would have happened if he’d pulled the saxophone card instead of church bells because he doesn’t believe in chance. He is certain that he – and everyone else in town – are part of a divine plot. They have always been destined to play in this orchestra of fire, smoke, bells, and rain.

A woman rushes out of her dark house, into her garden, following the smell of smoke. The sight of brilliant magenta petals shining in the downpour ignites her brain, strips all questions from her. Next to the fierce purple flowers are seven black pansies; black hands, pushing through wet soil, like Cimmerian worms swaying in the night, called up from the underworld by the cacophony of bells.


* * *


Christien Gholson is the author of the novel A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian, 2011). 
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One Response to Flash by Christien Gholson

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