Flash Fiction: “The Man with the Broken Smile, Part II”

If you’ve enjoyed my “Man with the Broken Smile” story, then you might find this spiritual sequel just as fascinating. It’s another side of the macabre tale, no less chilling than the original, but maybe a little more sympathetic.

(And before you ask, no, this story is not a reflection of my feelings about the results of Election Night. It was written long before this week, I can assure you.)


The Man with the Broken Smile, Part II, by Alexander Paul Willging

Word Count: 519

Hello, my name is Martin Bloom. If my smile upsets you, I’m sorry, but I can’t help it. It wasn’t my choice. I earned it.

No, really. I earned it from Them. They, who are eternal and bound to the darkness behind the stars, chose me for Their mighty vessel, to perceive and have power over all of space and time. Until there is no time left, They told me. Until skies burn and until seas boil, until all lie moaning and broken upon the soil from whence they came, Their nightly chant goes. And, you know, for a moment or two, I was okay with that. I’d never had someone who believed in me before. So what if I was to be the last man alive? A monument of flesh and blood and bone on a lifeless world spinning through a cold void?

At least, for once, I’d be someone important.

Except it didn’t work. Whatever They did, whatever process They used… it didn’t work. And so They threw me out, cast me back to the earth with my broken smile and broken thoughts. They found someone else, someone better to carry out the final act of humanity’s brief, flickering story.

Now I sit here in town, always a step out of time from my neighbors. I try to be friendly, you know. But then I try to tell someone “Good morning,” and what comes out instead is a ghastly tale of ritual cannibalism or some natural disaster. A disaster that, to your mortal sense of time, hasn’t happened yet. But it will. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen how your story ends. I’ve seen everyone’s ending, but like Cassandra of Troy, no one believes me. It’s a terrible thing to be discarded by powers beyond your understanding. It’s so lonely.

But like everyone else here, I make do. I keep busy. I work online, counseling mental health patients who never have to look at my horrible smiling face. I have a garden. On some weekends, I go fishing. It’s not much of a life, but it’s mine. Or, at least, it will be until the Hour of Calamity is ordained by They Who Dwell in Endless Shadow, for black and terrible is Their Will.

People ask me why I don’t try to stop them, be a hero for once. I tell them I can’t. I’ve already seen it. I can’t stop power on that magnitude. But maybe, at the opportune moment, I can delay them, give us another day or two to avoid the Hour of the Shattered Earth. In fact, I’m seeing this happen right now. Oh, but it feels so good. Really good. Maybe this… this is why I’m always smiling at you. I hope that’s why. Oh, I sure hope so. I’ll give that new Apostle of Endless Night a black eye, let me tell you. I’m doing it. Already did it. Will do it, maybe soon, maybe later.

I do it for you, my old hometown. I’m not your hero, though. I’m just your neighbor.

It’s Martin Bloom, by the way. Sorry to intrude.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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