Stranger Views is very happy to be able to put up this flash fiction piece from Australian writer Martin Rusis.
A lightable mood billowed with the dry rubbish blown in the gutters. Along the empty night streets or wafting over walls, it was drawn on.
As a vapour, it flowed and settled.
As a static charge, it seeped and soaked into homes.
It visited upon beds.
It sought minds seeking company.
In more civic days this had been the town hall, now it was whatever the splinters of the community wanted when they booked. Tonight, via draped muslin, dim lamps and incense smoke, it was an ancient temple of meditation.
Sri, facing 26 middle-classers, intoned: “In through your nose. Feel it fill all of you, lighting you up, stretching into the tips of your fingers. Hold, and out through your mouth.”
She guided them past their conscious walls. She felt the vibrance illume over the students.
That vibrance – the crucial sign she’d been trained to look for – clouded over Pierre. She sensed nothing special in him. Moods simply settle where they will.
“In and hold. Opening and opening. The flower. Hold. And out.”
Sri’s real name was Julie.
The class shattered, was stunned. And 51 eyes shot in horror to Pierre, who lay, still entranced, on his meditation mat, unaware he’d just screamed into all their minds.
Sri’s brain retched.
After too many moments when she hadn’t spoken, Pierre’s peaceful flower folded, his state receded and he too awoke.
With their rictus and panic-eyes, the echoes of it – whatever it was – rebounded from them. Then he felt it. A colourless, mental rip. Something that had risen and was pushing down. A clamp relented from his sense of things. Energy had been pressing through talon points around and between his eyes. Pain in his ears. All clearing. In a moment, it had passed, and he, at least, felt normal. He looked at the others. The shock had passed, people were recovering. Some students trembled, heads down. Others wrapped their arms close and edged away. Some hunched over like they were trying to unswallow something slippery. No one met his gaze.
Sri found her mental north and came back to the situation. Hands clasped and eyes closed, she spoke: “Uhh… I… I think that will be all for tonight.”
New moods awoke as the class broke up. Those near the door just left. Others struggled to regiment their limbs for any organised action.
“What? What happened?” Pierre’s voice was loud because he was only one speaking and he was speaking to turned backs.
Tapping her index fingers gently on her forehead and letting out a slow breath, Sri summoned some words: “Please – Pierre, was it? – please, just give us some time.”
“What, but … what?”
She offered a raised palm, pleading silence and calm. Soon, they were alone.
“I know someone who’d want to meet you.”
Smote by the group’s psychic gag-reflex, the mood drained into the hall’s corners. In the ceiling space, it coalesced into one roil.
It dissolved through a wall and unfurled into the street. There it blew along, in the rippling subconscious of the city.
And, vibrant, it settled here and wafted there.
Seeking minds seeking company.
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