Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Terror From the Sky by Bill Chance

“Certainly in the topsy turvy world of rock and roll, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is quite often useful.”

― Ian Faith, Spinal Tap

Toad Corners, Dallas Arboretum

Terror From the Sky

Without any warning the night sky opens up. A huge black rectangle, taking up fully a third of the heavens, swings upwards. The world shivers in terror. Quickly a giant human hand and arm plunges down out of the black sky. You and your friends scatter.

The hand gropes with hideous speed. No hiding place is free from its flashing, powerful probes. First one of your compatriots is grabbed from behind a rock and lifted into the air. Then your other friend is caught behind a tree and he too disappears skyward. You crouch shivering in the pond but the giant hand returns and inexorably traps you in a corner. You try to leap to safety but are trapped against the cold, smooth walls. The hand closes in on one ankle and you are pulled into space through the hole in the sky itself, jiggling, dangling, upside down, held by one thin leg with irresistible force.

What has caused this horror? Where are you going? What awful fate lies beyond the top of the very world. You seem to remember it happening before, but everything is so hazy now.

This morning Craig was rushing around the house looking for his keys and he noticed that the water in the toad’s terrarium was almost dried up. There was only a thin damp layer left in the little double blue plastic dish that they kept for them to swim in. He should have at least stopped to pour a little distilled into their pond, but he was late for work… as always.

“Sorry, guys, I’ve got to run. Get through the day and I’ll take care of you when I get home.”

All day Craig felt guilty for not giving up the few seconds it would have taken to give them some water. He knew there was enough dampness left for them to survive, but still, they depended on him taking care of them. So he resolved to clean out their world when he came home from work. They were always happy with a clean cage.

So that evening, Craig went through the drill. The hardest part was catching the three toads and putting them in the portable cage so he could wash the aquarium. They didn’t like getting caught so he had to chase them around and grab them, they were pretty fast, they could jump, and once he had them, they were very squirmy and hard to hold.

Eventually (well, actually pretty quickly, Craig was getting better at catching them faster than they were getting better at getting away) K’nex, Mortimer (pronounced More-Timer), and Runaway had been grabbed and hauled over to the little portable cage with the white gravel and the lid firmly locked down.

Craig’s son helped clean the thing out. While Craig scrubbed the water dish, the three rocks, the flowerpot, and the two plastic plants, his son filled the aquarium with water from the hose. He skimmed a couple of live crickets off the water and put them in the little cage so the three toads could have a quick snack while they waited. Then Craig poured the water out and rinsed the gravel to get rid of all the toad shit and cricket carcasses.

Out went the chlorinated hose-water; in went the little bowl with distilled water along with the furniture (rocks, flowerpot, etc.). Craig made completely sure the lid was locked down tight (it has suction cups) before he put the three guys back in (Craig never could figure out how that one got out that one time, let alone how he survived unseen in the kitchen for a week).

And now the three toads were happy as larks. They hopped around, looking for crickets, or floated lazily in their little dish-pond as relaxed as can be.

It all worked out in the end. The terror is over.

Until next week.

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