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  • Writer's pictureJabe Stafford

One Page Wonders I - How I Committed Morticide

Flash fiction is a love of mine, and so are geeky tropes and pulp-style stories of every variety. Sometimes it's the characters that spur the writing. Other times it's atmosphere, concept, magic system, or a twist. One Page Wonders blogs started as a writing exercise. Now they're digestible, one-shot stories you can read on the bus or while sneaking 5 minutes at work!

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“I haven’t been a child in sixty years,” I said to the syringe.

My assistant’s eyes adhered to the thirty milliliters of orange fluid within the syringe like the liquid was a meal after days of starvation. Henry said, “You have been a child more than once before.”

It was not a question. I had been a youth. Many times. Somehow, Henry now knew.

I plucked the syringe out of its valise, then lifted a hand mirror framed in carved oak with my other hand. It was heavy for an antique from the eighteen-hundreds. The bald pate and canyons of wrinkles I saw within the glass would vanish before the hour was over. However, the words that decorated the outside of the frame would hopefully remain. Devlin Frances Seymour. For all the public knew, it was my great-great grandfather’s name. Not mine.

In the reflection, my doctorate in chemistry from Stanford hung on the wall behind me. So did the military issue trench knife from World War I. It was not there presently.

I squinted at Henry through the bitter yellow glare of the lamp on my desk. “Do you know how many times I have re-created this formula to restore—”

Lunging with the mirror, I bashed my assistant over the head with the heavy wooden frame. I swung again as Henry stumbled, smashing the mirror glass against his forehead. Shards cascaded down his face. They tore his skin, his eyes, and his lips. He screamed and something metallic clattered to the floor. The trench knife missing from its wall mounting.

I did not think he expected such vigorous defense from me mid-sentence. He must have planned to use that knife, the one now on the floor, to extort my formula from me before I injected it.

“Every half century or so,” I hissed at the bleeding Henry. “Someone I work with gets greedy for an endless life.”

He scrambled for the knife, but could not find it with the blood pouring into—and out of—his eyes. He shrieked, “Murderer! You are the chemist who created endless life. You were supposed to help people. To create better lives with your wisdom.”

I injected the orange serum into the vein on my left wrist. Then I picked up the knife and felt my body rewind and grow taller, then shorter again, the wrinkles receding and the hair re-growing. By the time I stood over him, I was ten years old again. “Helping others how I see fit is a pleasant side effect, yes. Morticide is for me alone. Death does not get me. This is how I kill it.”

Henry groaned, “You could stop death for everyone, Dr. Seymour.”

I raised the knife. “And what would humanity do when it had consumed nature itself?”

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