Rob Howard Wins Flash Fiction Challenge

Rob Howard is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:

Milky Way over Colville River Chewelah 07122018 3L0A2022
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Milky Way
by Rob Howard

“I… hic, know when I’m not welcome,” Don slurred at the hulking bouncer, stumbling through the door. The cool night was a welcome change from the smoke-filled bar but failed to sober him. After his fight with Carrie and the copious amounts of booze he ingested in an attempt to forget the fight, it was miraculous the bouncer hadn’t thrown him out bodily. He made it five triumphant steps before he landed, face down, right where the bouncer’s trajectory would’ve landed him had he not accepted the invitation to leave.

Don turned and stared into the inky blackness above, his eyes struggling to adjust. As the stars came into focus, his vision began spinning. His body felt weightless as it rose to the Milky Way. Don realized that all the scientists were wrong as he approached the first star. They weren’t massive, fiery balls of gas, but a collection of memories. He glimpsed his first kiss in the shining bubble. He floated on, catching glimpses of his life periodically. Next his journey took him past a blinding sphere, too painful to look at, though Carrie’s screaming could still be heard. Don’s eyes welled and he screamed back at nothing. He drifted past the fight and close to another bubble, seeing himself smiling with a woman and children whom he hadn’t met.

Suddenly, his head was splitting and he awoke to the smell of someone’s vomit. Blinking in the morning sun, he picked himself up and headed for life’s next star.

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