The Competition

A flash fiction story by Brian Robinson.

I’ve had some strange dreams in my time but this was something else. I dreamt was in a fine art competition with four other entrants. We each had to chose an object and suggest how it might be enhanced. This immediately felt weird because I’m not at all artistic, yet, I remember feeling really enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get started.

As luck would have it, I was the first to chose among five objects so I felt really smug at having that advantage. The first four works I looked at were so beautiful that I knew it would be impossible to improve them. The fifth object was a different matter. My first impression was that it was in serious need of cheering up.

It looked like a model of a mausoleum and was basically a small metallic box cast from some sort of alloy. It was quite architectural in style and the outside had been gilded although the gilding looked dull and blotchy. It was the sort of thing you might find on a mantlepiece, perhaps used to store the remains of a loved one. I opened the door of the box and found the inside to be equally dull. Etched into the metal on the rear wall was a sketch of two men deep in conversation the meaning of which eludes me to this day. This was going to be a doddle to pimp-up I thought.

I decided to stick with the theme of death, but I wanted to somehow include the universe. The universe has so much to offer in terms of colour, light and movement I was sure I would be on a winner. Bringing the two thoughts together, I came up with the idea of a dying universe trapped inside a box. The outside I would leave unchanged. I wanted the inside to be a surprise.

Once we had all put forward our suggestions the objects would then be handed back to the original artists and they would have to refine their work according to the suggestions offered. I had no idea how you could get a dying universe inside a box, but that wasn’t my problem.

Six months later, everyone involved got together and were joined by a small audience for the day of judgement. I immediately noticed that the other four objects had been uplifted significantly by the addition of some exquisite refinements. This darkened my spirits considerably because they stood in stark contrast with my still drab looking metallic box.

However, when one of the judges opened the door of the box everything changed. A kaleidoscope of swirling colours burst forth as galaxies and black holes collided in the most magnificent display. The audience gasped in amazement and like me were mesmerised by the display.

Then, everything changed. The most horrific roaring sound emerged from the box and everything in the room began spin. We were all getting drawn towards the mausoleum. The gasps turned to screams as panic set in and people tried to turn and run. I clung to a nearby pillar and looked on more in bewilderment than fear.

Eventually, my grip loosened and I too found myself being dragged. I remember thinking this is what it must be like getting sucked into a Black Hole. Just as my feet were about to enter the box I awoke with a choking screaming sound lingering in my throat. I sat bolt upright.

But that’s not the amazing thing. The amazing thing is that’s when I first found myself here on planet Earth, an entirely different planet: in an entirely different universe.

The Big Crunch

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