‘The Summons’ flash fiction by Iago Crybin

Iago Crybin is an Environmental Biologist. Born in the Bible-Belt of Texas, he zealously opposes the dogmatism of all theistic religions, and his writings most often reflect themes exploring the ontological Zen of the Three Marks of Existence and the paradox of sentience existing in a seemingly non-sentient universe. 

He flicks my ear, again – at 4 am. I know what he wants as I turn my back to the cold, hiding in the warm and blanketing comfort of my stay-down silken duvet shelter. Keen to spy, the corner of an eye follows his shadow soft-sock shuffling along the creaking hardwood hallway.

No, I’m not getting up today, I yell at the shadow, knowing full well the battle is already lost. Still, my stubbornness holds me steadfast within the woollen weave of my protective haven whose warm and satisfying caresses demand my mind slip back into the bliss of unconscious sleep.

After several minutes of battle with the covering of my self-made cocoon, I realise my conscience has already breached my fortress. I jerk the covers back, bracing for, and simultaneously hoping, the coming rush of icy air will swallow me whole. Jonah in the belly of a whale, frozen in time.

My thoughts had been swirling throughout the wrestling match, demanding a hearing. I knew what they wanted, hell everybody did. Truth is such a demanding taskmaster. Against all hope, the summons still lay on the coffee table, now stained with a wine glass ring.

I can’t do it. Too many people will get hurt, nothing will change, it never does.

But Simon was dead, and his widow and family were here, and counting on me. Present too, were the threats of the gang that had advised me in my testimony. Fear erases memories, but thoughts of them mentioning my family… a baseball bat and a broken car window in the subterranean parking garage cut a deep fold in my brain.

Shit, the adages crush me as my conscience walks back from the hallway and watches me dress slowly, very slowly, like a dressing for waiting gallows.

‘Do you see the man who shot and killed Simon Gillott?’ asks the Assistant District Attorney.

Words choke in my throat, fear sticks my tongue to the roof of my mouth. I pray with an importunity that’s supposed to open doors that I would disappear, that the burden of truth would be removed and I could run free and flee back to the safety of my comforting and uninvolved bed.

In a squeaking voice, the words unexpectedly blurt out.

‘Yes sir.’ I point my finger toward the sweaty man with hate in his eyes.

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