Thanks to the inspirational Chuck Wendig for offering up this Flash Fiction Challenge | Sub-genre smash-and-grab challenge.
Here is my Hardboiled Lovecraftian … inspired piece – Does it Matter?
A seething tornado of emotions assaulted him each time he left his sheltered restorative space. But staying inside the protective walls could only be tolerated for so long, before he would be driven to venture out, to help.
He still didn’t know why he helped them. What was the impact when none of it really mattered? But by accident he’d found that righting injustice gave him some short term panacea for the pain. It was a selfish act really. Even the outcome was barely a reward, if indeed he desired such a thing. Those he helped revered and in some cases loved him for the changes he engineered in their lives. But it didn’t last long. He knew this because he felt the painful sting as they chose the alternate path to the same destination. Sometimes it was the day after; sometimes it might take a few years. His kind were not made to feel regret, but after eons of the same, a sense of regret had taken up residence as more of a habit.
He’d stayed inside for too long. He’d been trying again to transport his essence to his origin planet. He’d failed and determined, once more, not to try again. His torture was to stay on this planet where the maelstrom of everyday lives edged in and took over. He stepped out to the street.
Tracking down evil and wrong doing wasn’t that hard, it was everywhere. “It won’t be a bomb that kills this planet. It will be the culmination of poison subtleties” he said out loud. People didn’t seem to hear him. His voice on this planet took the same form as that of the humans he moved between, but his truth was often unheard.
The task of self-serving relief was quick to present itself to him, and the familiarity of his foe brought some positive sense. It had been a trophy of immense reprieve when he last destroyed a degressor orb. Vast numbers of humans escaping the impact of the orb, lest it washed and magnified within them their own dormant wells of irreversible despair, multiplied his personal gains. He sensed to determine its’ distance, and spun towards the target. He prepared himself to attack and miscalculated. The tidal wave of fear from hundreds of panicked humans encircled his open being and threw him staggering to the ground. Immobilized with intense pain, he could only observe as the orb moved over him, and watch as a scattering of souls, too slow to outrun it, fell to the pavement near him. Their immediate despair latching him firmly in place before he sense-crashed.
His aural sense reengaged first. Around him were quiet voices. He prepared for their hopelessness to sting him once more as his restore gained momentum, and pulled himself to sit.
“Wait, you are not yet well, sir,” he focused on reengaging his optical sense and identified a female human holding his knee frame and cupping his head casing, “you seem to carry a disposition favored by the orb, talking poison subtleties, it may well provide an explanation for why you fell before it was upon us” she continued softly. The female emanated no despondency, and her compassion gently resonated on the edge of his sense-making. She moved her hands away from his frame and he felt the abrupt, but dull, seep of despair from those who were still close by.
“Please, be still while I tend to your healing.” She returned her hold on him, and he felt a void take shape within him.
“You have taken away my pains,” he looked around to see humans walking unsteadily back to their homes “and you have healed all those assaulted here today?”
“I only wish that were so. Many have responded favorably to healing, though they will never return to their true selves. The gentleman over there,” a male human sat close by, his head in his hands, “he has descended into a deep melancholy and cannot be reached.” Her anger nudged him and he turned back to see her focused away to the distance.
“You are angered” he stated.
“Yes, the degressors have now harmed others.”
“They are coming back this way,” he observed, “I am able to destroy them, now I am… healed.”
“If we all move from their path I can heal the small numbers who do not escape.” She emanated no doubt in his claim, only concern for the damage the orbs did to her fellow humans, and to him. Her healing effect continued to envelope him. Within the semi-void he checked his impulse to seek further destruction of the orbs. Quite simply the combined immunity may be the difference he required to transport to his origin.
“I have destroyed them before. If you were to focus your healing on me whilst I face them down, no one will be harmed, for they will be no more” he continued.
“They come now!” she shouted.
“Place your hands upon me” he demanded. He felt her hold him, and take position. Two orbs moved towards them and he put his focus on the closest. It shattered, and they watched as the fragments merged with the remaining orb, intensifying its potency. Humans fell to the ground around them, their curiosity to see triumph paying off poorly. Their rapid switch from hope to despondency rushed at him, and he felt her protection challenged. He focused what remained of his power towards the remaining orb generating its explosion.
It was done.
He waited for relief to build, but his sense-system was in overload. Her hands were gone.
Her form was gone. Shattered pieces of the female drifted on the atmosphere. Piece-by-piece she was drawn in violently to become one with the remains of the orb. Resurrected, the orb shifted towards the floundering humans, as her comfort projected out to him “We had to try.”