Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
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Flash Writing Challenge
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by Thomas D Reynolds

At first,
it is only
a steady whirring,
possibly a pebble
grinding within

Then a blur
of feelers inside
the window cracked
to the heat,
touching my thumb
only for a moment.

No leaf,
I tell myself,
sensing a presence
across my arm,
then stirring
above my waist.

Car wheels
graze the median,
and steering back,
I glance down
at the dark spot
below my chest.

Filled with terror,
I begin a struggle
to the death,
flailing arms
against my chest
to knock it away.

The car swerves
into gravel
as I stab at it
with a finger
and clench a fist
to stop the sound.

Even after the blur
and sound
the hand keeps
flailing away,
unaware of success.

breath slows.
The only sound
is the whine of
tires gripping

The hand which
grips the wheel
slowly relaxes.
Somewhere in
the truck cab,
it too relaxes.

Perhaps as
frightened as I,
it now waits for
what comes next,
the uneasy bargain
when both survive.

The car speeds up,
and a gas receipt
rattles in the wind,
begins to thrash
about the cab
like a wounded moth.

Both of us contemplate
this brief coexistence,
how it occurred
and how it will end,
as miles tick away
and daylight fades.

© 2005 Thomas D Reynolds

Thomas Reynolds teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including Combat, American Western Magazine, Flint Hills Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, New Delta Review, The Green Tricycle, Ariga, 3rd Muse Poetry Journal, Sidereality, and Prairie Poetry. My poem "How to Survive on a Distant Planet," published in Strange Horizons, was nominated for a Rhysling award for best short poem.

Find more by Thomas D Reynolds in the Author Index.

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