In Fiction on September 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I’m extremely late to the party (especially considering Friday comes to some parts of the world when it’s still Thursday here) but I’ve finally gotten to my Friday Fictioneers post. Yet again it’s something a little different for me (I don’t usually write much of anything related to religion) and it’s way, way, way too long (not so much flash fiction as extended-full-frontal-nudity fiction) but hopefully some of you will make it to the end.


Bernie stood at the mirror and flexed his new wings, wincing as they pulled taut the raw-sewn wound. They were heavy and strong.

“Magnificent,” he said, but the surgeon only grimaced.

“The human body was not designed to bear such weight,” he said gravely.

“And what of the human soul?” Bernie replied. “The Seraphim, the burning ones – they who sit closest to the throne of God – first made proof of their devotion when they kissed the hot coals. To be close to God is only a burden to the unbelievers – and like Icarus they burn in his fire – but the truly devout know only glory in His light.”

The surgeon said nothing to that, and Bernie went home to heal. When at last the flesh had knit and the pain was gone, he went up on a hill and looked into the sky.

“Now I prove my devotion,” he whispered.

Slowly, carefully, he unfurled his wings, the white feathers shining with the sun’s radiance, and then — with a single fluid surge — he lifted himself from the ground.

Higher, higher he flew into the empty sky, leaving the earth shrinking and cold below.  The wind gusted in his face and he laughed with joy, flying ever higher until there seemed nothing about him but the ever expanding heavens, and nothing below but the hopelessness of the world, left forever behind.

But the human body wasn’t designed to bear such weight (and frankly doesn’t care what the soul has to say about it) and before long Bernie was laboring for each and every rise. His back ached and his muscles failed and beads of sweat broke out on his skin – or was he melting?

“No,” he shouted. “This is your test. You must not fail it. You must not burn.”

And with one last triumphant push he drove his wings down, earthward, with all his might, filling their plumage with a great breath of sky …

Hours later, and many miles away, a man crashed down in a great storm of feathers. They say his back had been broken, that his skin had frozen, and yet there are some who say he was smiling.


This week the photo prompt comes care of Lora Mitchell, and as always Friday Fictioneers is hosted by Madison Woods. Check out the other links with the button above, and leave your comments and links below!

  1. very good — a good use of each word.

  2. It must’ve been hard to find shirts after the surgery, huh? A nice little parable you’ve written, Brian. I enjoyed it. Better late than never, right?
    I’m 19 on the list.

  3. Glad you made it eventually, Brian. I was wondering where you were! I like this story, you convey the guy’s ambition and desire and the last paragraph brings us back to earth along with him, with a bit of a bump! I’m certain you could cut it down to 100 words if you wanted to, but that sounds like a project for another day, and I didn’t at all struggle to read to the end of the longer version.

  4. A modern-day Icarus. It read easily and was done well so who cares about the word count? At least until another day. 🙂 Glad you made it. It’s a slow week this week.

  5. Very nice. As a pilot, I can relate to this completely–I’m glad he got to soar and died happy.

    Here’s mine:

  6. Hi Brian,
    This seemed very much like a retelling of the Icarus story with more of a metaphysical premise. I didn’t mind the extra words. I think they added a lot of good stuff. I think your story’s theme, that people will sacrifice almost anything, pain, transformation, even death, in the quest for enlightenmen was well worth waiting for. Ron

  7. I enjoyed the tragedy playing out and the poetic imagery in yours. The last line is really great.

  8. I was truly entranced as it moved along, wondering how it would end. And end it did, landing in a pile of feathers. A farmer’s field of goose feathers? Chicken feathers? And found with a smile of his face. Love this.

    • Thanks Lora, that’s really nice of you to say! It was a great photo to start with though, so I couldn’t do too much to screw it up :p. Thanks for commenting!

  9. Brian…I left a message but don’t see it anywhere. I loved this. Could not wait to see how it would end. And end it did, in a field of feathers. A farmer’s field of goose feathers? Chicken feathers? And a smile on his face. Nice work. One of my favorites.

  10. Dear Brian,

    You may have been late to the party, but I’m later to the reading so no worries. The read did not take long and your story was interesting. The tale of the ultimate sacrifice. If you have faith, you can fly. In the end, though, the only god in his world was gravity.



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