SAFE GROUND: 'The Assignment' by Vladimir

Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


'The Assignment'
by Vladimir

They told him it was a matter of national importance, the key to the survival of his countrymen; for the triumph of their principles and values. It was the existential issue of their whole being. There needed to be found a solution to the problem of being able to write in space.For this was a time when victory in space meant victory at home. And this was being prevented by the fact that no pen could work without gravity.

All the sciences, all the resources, all the efforts towards this project of national priority were being prevented from their fruition by this most simple of tasks.

So, armed with purpose and full of responsibility the man sacrificed himself in totality to the assignment. His children grew up and entered adulthood, but he missed all this as he had the assignment. They moved out, got married and started lives of their own, but he missed all this, as there was the assignment. His dear wife grew old and sad, but this was not noticed due to the assignment. When she breathed out for the final time, alone, without his love, there was no time, as there was the assignment.

Even when the official letter came, delivered by official men, informing him that they would no longer wait, that the program had been moved on, he did not flinch, for they did not understand that he had the assignment.

In the autumn of his life, at home, alone, working on his assignment, he shouted out, ‘This is a riddle that no man can solve!’

And so, exhausted, defeated, he slumped into the sofa, switched on the TV. He felt the sudden sharp pain inside and knew that his end had come. As he drew his final breath he managed to see the little girl on the screen, writing upside down with a pencil.

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You can follow Safe Ground on Twitter @Safe_Ground.

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