Friday Flash Fiction: Satisfaction

Here’s this week’s flash fiction. Unfortunately this one is a bit of rush job, which is a shame as the idea is more promising than what I’ve done with it. The story began as an attempt to engage with this post and subsequent discussion. I suspect I may have been too literal and drifted off course but, well, I’ll let the story speak for itself.

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SATISFACTION

He walked between worlds, the traveller, never settling on any one for longer than it took to trade stories. He sought out others who had moved between realities, as he had begun to so long ago. In return he told them of other places he had seen, and shared the tales of others with whom he had made this simple exchange.

Sometimes they would ask him what he sought. He shook his head. “I seek nothing,” he told them. “What you see as the act of searching is enough for me.”

They would shake their heads and not understand, or nod to feign comprehension. And then they would leave him to his food, or drinks, or his temporary camp in the thoroughfare. They returned home and collected their belongings, vowing to leave this cruel world, and travel on in search of the traveller’s tales.

“There’s a better world out there,” they told their friends and loved ones. “And I’m going to find it.”

And off they went, like tortoises with lives on their backs, side-stepping into the place where lines blurred and the other Earths were.

The traveller had, at first, found himself saddened by this. At first he had tried to explain to them that they could not strike out in search of their dreams in this way. Life, he tried to explain, does not work that way. But they refused to believe him.

“This world,” they argued, “is so much worse than the one I left. And yet from your own tales I know that a better one exists. You cannot deny it – you have seen it with your own two eyes!”

They would not believe that they could not get there.

The traveller did not pretend to understand how it worked, this walking-between-worlds, but he knew that he travelled as an almost incidental thing. He liked to learn new stories, and he liked to tell those he knew. There was little more to it than that.

Yet one thing that he had learned was that every other he had seen, those that struck out in search of a perfect world, a world in which they fit and belonged, would only find themselves betrayed. An anarchist with whom he had, long ago, begun his travels, found herself travelling to dictatorial societies with increasing ziggurats of hierarchy bearing down on those below. They had parted ways after several such journeys, she beginning to wonder if his influence was responsible.

Later, he encountered travelling merchants and capitalist entrepreneurs seeking to make their fortunes; these unfortunates found themselves first in places where simple barter economies existed, and money was treated with good-natured derision. Later still they found themselves in societies where commonalities of the people shared what they had freely and willingly.

Those who were private and insular by nature, who sought a place where they might be left alone to live their lives, would only find worlds populated by those who were warm and embracing, who lived in large tribe-like dwellings. Those who sought validation in shared experience, in universal friendship and family, arrived in worlds where people were closed off from one another, societies were eyes were always averted, or where faces were hidden behind featureless masks.

Through them all, through their hopeless dreams and flight toward an imagined perfection, the traveller walked and talked and listened. He never came home, but he made his world as he found it.

Comments
4 Responses to “Friday Flash Fiction: Satisfaction”
  1. neilbe says:

    It’s interesting but feels more like backstory to something else. Maybe have a crack at developing it into something longer?

  2. It’s a good concept. A more profound version of Sliders and the like.

  3. Shaun CG says:

    Oh shit, did I rip off Sliders?
    That’s what I get for not watching enough TV as a kid!

    Cheers guys. Yeah, the concept needs better than this, I agree, though at heart it’s a fairly simple fable.

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