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Flash Fiction
294 words
SHJ Issue 5
Spring 2012

The Archangel Michael

Raul Clement

When winter comes to the asylum, they stare out the window because they are not allowed to play. Once a week the orderlies come by to take them outside No running No pushing and then, if it is snowing, they are allowed to roll around a little. No sledding, someone might get hurt.

Oliver, who used to be a fire marshal until the day he refused to come out of a burning building, lies down in the snow to make angels. He remembers things like snow angels. His wife comes to visit him. She can’t understand why he did it. Does he not love her?

Preacher Paul stands above Oliver, drool freezing on his lip. “Make the archangel Michael,” he says. “Make Michael.”

“Shut your damn nut,” Oliver says. He rolls onto his face so that he will not have to listen. He slides his arms in his coat up and down, up and down.

Preacher Paul jumps on his back, screaming. He lifts Oliver’s head and slams it into the dirt. Oliver’s nose crunches. He touches his hand to his face and is shocked by the red on his glove. Where are the orderlies? They are here to make things, well, orderly.

White pill, bathtime. Red pill. Sleep. The way it’s supposed to be.

Dennis and Rooster, the big ones, grab Preacher Paul and Oliver—why him? what did he do?—and lead them back inside. You see what you did now? You ruined it for everybody. As they go up the main steps, they pass the statue of their proud founder, which stands like a landmark to all visitors, saying this thing can be conquered, join with me, please.

Preacher Paul laughs and spits in the snow.

—Previously published as “landmark, archangel, asylum” in Troika Moonshine 300 (10-07-2009); reprinted here with author’s permission


SHJ Issue 5
Spring 2012

Raul Clement

lives in Greensboro, NC. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Blue Mesa Review, Coe Review, and The Surreal South ’09 anthology, among others. He is an editor at Mayday Magazine and New American Press. He is at work on a novel, Joshua City—a post-apocalyptic, Brechtian, sci-fi monstrosity replete with lepers, revolutionaries, and Siamese triplets who can see the future—with coauthor Okla Elliott.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury