Flash Fictions

Death and Her Substitute

At a junior college in South central Kansas there is an introductory

course taught by Death. The course, Basics in Animal Husbandry, is

transferable to most major Universities, except for a few small liberal

arts colleges who are skeptical of Death’s academic qualifications. At

least once, but usually two or three times, during every semester, Death

would be absent from class. In her place was always the same man, who

simply announced himself as Death’s Substitute. He spoke with a strong

southern accent, was very overweight, and told stories about his wacky

shopping mishaps at discount stores to highlight his lessons. The next

day Death would be back in class, excusing her absence because of some

cold or flu. Then the class would laugh, to which Death would respond

with a slight smile, because we had all seen the mornings news about

some plane crash or earthquake, and knew what she’d really been up to.


The blizzard didn’t make me blind. Snow and the swirling wind are only

in the minds of children, or at least that’s what the biopsy indicated.

It’s the sun and all its crazy antics that burned my retinas into bacony

crisps. You see, because I don’t, not anymore, the sun plays tricks in

the winter. Sometimes it gets bored with the cold and cloudy days of

late December and decides to ham it up with its best friends, the heat

and a few unrelated plumbing tools. When a winter storm comes in from

the north, during the height of its ice dropping power, the sun and

friends create a series of fun-loving, yet awfully dangerous practical

jokes. So, when you’re fumbling around through a white haze of freezing

rain, and you unexpectedly come across a warm fire, and a plunger or

pipe wrench with which to build a shelter or fix an annoying sewage

problem, run away as fast as fast is away. Because if you stick around

to heat your cold-numbed appendages, the sun will burst through the

clouds with a cartoony demonic laugh and bake your eyeballs. I know they

think they’re just being funny, but eyesight is an important part of a

nutritious breakfast, and besides we have ways of imploding small


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