Short Story Of the Day – The Future (flash fiction) by Bill Chance

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard

Dallas Arboretum

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#60) More than half way there! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


telephone (n.) – from télé- “far”+ phōnē “sound, voice

The Future

Young Alcinous entered the market with his hand firmly clasping the small bag of gold he had hidden under a fold of his tunic. He walked deeper and deeper into the dark, winding rows of stalls, knowing the seer that he wanted would be in the most isolated spot. He hesitated in front of the shabby unlabeled hut that his advisors assured would give him the answers that he wanted.

He entered and was surprised to see a young man sitting on the other side of a small round table. There was one empty seat.

“Sit down Alcinous,” said the man in an agreeable voice. “I understand you will pay for my knowledge.”

Alcinous fetched the sack of gold and dropped it on the table. “How did you know my name? And that I could pay?”

“I would not be much of a prophet if I didn’t know such obvious things.”

“I did not expect a young man.”

“I only resemble a young man. I am over three thousand years old.”

“Can you help me? My father is very ill and I am going to become king soon. It is time I take a wife but I want to know who my true love is.”

The seer removed the sack of gold and replaced it with a small rolled parchment sealed with red wax.

“I know what you are here for. The answer is in this paper. It contains the first words your sacred soulmate will speak to you.”

Acinous reached forward and broke the seal. He unrolled the parchment and read.

Hey! You dropped your phone.

“What is this rubbish? These two words – têle and phōnḗ – pushed together? Far? Voice? What does it mean? Do not try to swindle me, you insane seer. I will call my wrath…”

“I assure you I tell only the truth. I am three thousand years old but I do not live my life like mortal men. I was born three thousand years in the future and I have lived this immense time backward. The future is my memory; I remember all, only what you call the past is mystery.”

“Again, I implore you, what does this prophesy mean?”

“You will understand it when it occurs. Those words will take on a different meaning in the future… a future when you can hear distant voices as clear as if it were you and I, sitting here.”

“The far future? I don’t expect to be alive.”

“You won’t… as such. However, your soul will be reborn, again and again, until you will finally meet your soul mate. This will be your first and only opportunity, though. Do not forget. Do not miss. Do not delay. Everyone gets his or her one chance. Very few are successful.”

“But what good does that do me? I need to choose a wife and choose one soon. Choose one to be my queen.”

“To be the queen? There must be plenty of candidates.”

“There are. Thousands. That is the problem. Which one?”

“Oh, well, pick one that’s attractive to you. Or one that has a pleasing personality. Or one that brings political advantage. It doesn’t matter.”

“It doesn’t matter?”

“No. You will be disappointed. Betrayed. Miserable. None will be your soul mate and that will end in torment. Your destiny is for your future manifestation to meet her on the day she warns you that you dropped a far-away voice device… until then this is your doom.”

Alcinous stood and left the hut. On his way out of the market, he met his personal elite guard. He gathered the soldiers together.

“Go back to the hut and kill the seer. If you can. Gather up my gold and bring it back to me. But be quick, I think he might know you are coming.”


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