Speakeasy: The Usher

Starburst

The Usher

A flash sparked across the sky, burning a trail of light into Paul’s retinas. He sat, immobilized, his lit cigarette forgotten as he stared at the sky.

“Did you see that?” The voice spoke from behind his right shoulder. Paul tilted his head to acknowledge it, but his eyes never left the horizon. The flash had happened so quickly. If he hadn’t come outside for a smoke, he would have missed it.

The voice spoke again, “We told you,” it said, “we told you we were coming.”

This time Paul nodded. It was true. They had been telling him for years, making sure he would be prepared for their arrival.

Slowly, Paul’s face broke into a lopsided smile. Everyone had said he was crazy, that the voices were all in his head. Not even his parents had believed him. On his darkest days, Paul had questioned his own sanity, wondering if perhaps everyone was right about him. He’d even tried their pills, but they didn’t stop the voices, they just made him feel like he’d had the shit kicked out of him. So he’d stopped taking them and started paying more attention to what the voices were saying. After all, you can’t be mankind’s ambassador if you don’t know how to listen.

“It’s time to act Paul,” a second voice joined the first. This was the leader’s voice; Paul had come to know it well.

He nodded again, tossing his cigarette to the ground and crushing it under the toe of his shoe. Then he turned and went back inside.

To say the building he was staying in was decrepit would be generous. It was an old warehouse that had been abandoned for years, brimming with rusted-out metal, garbage and rat droppings. Paul stayed here, not because he liked living in squalor, but because this was where the voices had told him to go. No one would think to look here, they said, and so far they had proven to be right.

Paul stepped over broken glass and bags of fertilizer as he approached the pile of boxes he’d been amassing over the past few months. He was buoyed by a feeling of pride at having been chosen for this mission.

“We believe in you Paul,” the first voice said as he carefully carried some of the boxes out to his pick-up truck. He secured them with bungee cords and covered them with a canvas tarp.

“You will herald a new era for humanity,” the leader’s voice resonated like that of a proud parent. Paul felt a warm glow spread inside him.

Smiling, Paul climbed into the truck. He looked over his list, then keyed the first address into his GPS unit. Finally, he checked the box sitting in the passenger seat, making sure all the detonators were still there.

The voices were silent as he drove to his first destination, but Paul could feel their appreciation beaming down on him as they watched him carry out their work.

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This is my submission for this week’s Speakeasy challenge #100.
This week, in honour of the Speakeasy’s 100th Anniversary, submissions must be under 500 words and must begin with the following line:
A flash sparked across the sky.

In addition, submissions must reference the photo prompt, which is the following image:

P.S. If you’ve ever thought about participating in the Speakeasy challenge, what better time to do it than for the 100th Anniversary! Come join us — we’d love to have you!

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Starburst image credit: © irurPhotoxpress.com

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27 thoughts on “Speakeasy: The Usher

  1. Whether or not the voices are real, this isn’t going to end well for Paul. I feel bad for him! Is his name a reference to the movie, Paul?

    1. I think you may be right about Paul’s destiny, Bee! Not a reference to the movie (though I love that movie!) but a reference to Paul the Apostle.

  2. This left me thinking the exact same thing: “ooo!” This is intriguing and I love the line “After all, you can’t be Mankind’s ambassador if you don’t know how to listen.”

  3. Thank you for your recent comment and liking my posts! This was interesting and after work will have to explore more!

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