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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2243390
Grafton has a seismic experience. Winner of SCREAMS!!! Feb 03 2021.
Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

“Well, I guess California’s fallen into the sea then,” announced Grafton.

Blank looks followed this and Jerry said, “Whaddaya mean?”

“You all didn’t feel that?” asked Grafton

“Feel what?” came the chorus.

“That little earthquake. Well, it was more like an aftershock. Strong enough for me to feel, anyway.”

The group shook their heads and looked at each other. “Nope. Didn’t feel a thing.”

Grafton sat down and placed his beer on the table with the others. “You guys must be well ahead of me. How many you had before I got here?”

Hands were raised in protest. “Hey, I’m still on my first and I got here before the others,” said Blind Billy. He wasn’t blind but he sold them.

“Oh well, down the hatch.” Grafton tipped the first glug of beer down his throat.

For the rest of the evening, he didn’t mention the event, contenting himself with watching the others each time he felt the slight tremors. They didn’t react and he was forced to the conclusion that they honestly felt nothing. It was strange but he supposed that he must be hyper sensitive to seismic movements and only he could feel this unobtrusive shivering deep in the earth. Certainly, not even the beer in the glasses had their surfaces rippling in sympathy to the movements.

By the time the group began to break up as closing time drew near, Grafton had become used to the tremors. He could still feel them, even in his slightly anaesthetised state. Downing the last of his beer, he stood up and said his goodbyes.

On the way home, the tremors continued, not enough to knock him off his stride, but they did seem to be increasing in strength. By the time he reached his front door, there was no doubt about it. Thoroughly sober now, he headed for the living room and collapsed on the couch. The shocks rocked through his body from time to time.

Somehow, he fell into a doze and it wasn’t until the early hours of the morning that he awoke. It was a particularly bad tremor that threw him off the couch and left him dazedly awake on the floor. For a moment he did not understand what had happened but then another shock hit and he remembered. He staggered upright and sat on the couch.

This was becoming serious. Apart from anything else, it was now apparent that sleep would be impossible, so strong had the tremors become. He worried about the building too, although he doubted that the quakes had reached the point of destroying the structure. They might still be enough to knock over the taller items of furniture however. Grafton eyed the bookcase on the opposite wall and imagined it falling on to him.

And that was when he noticed that it seemed completely unaffected by the quakes. It was not even shifting slightly with the strongest shock yet.

He realised that it was his vision that was trembling in the force of the shocks. The whole world appeared to be moving in sympathy but, in truth, everything was entirely stable. Grafton was the only one that suffered the effects of these movements.

As a particularly bad one hit, he stood up carefully, only to be almost knocked off his feet by a quick aftershock. He lurched sideways but somehow maintained his balance to remain upright. Still he tried to think logically about the problem. If the world was not suffering in the same way, the shocks must be unrelated to the earth beneath his feet. Either he was picking up some vibration or ray in the atmosphere or the disruptions came from himself.

Every thought now was being interrupted by the almost continual tremors and it was impossible to think beyond that. Grafton was being thrown about the room, staggering as he tried to remain upright. It was no longer an option to seek help as he lost control of direction in the struggle to keep his feet.

He became conscious of a new feeling within himself. It was as if he was being stretched and pulled from the sides, as though demons were fighting over which way he should go, dragging him in opposite directions so that he could feel the bones and sinews protesting against the forces trying to tear them asunder. Suddenly the term, “a splitting headache,” gained new meaning as. with a tearing sound, he felt his skull begin to separate from the crown. Putting his hand up to the top of his head, he could feel that a crack had opened in the scalp. Blood was pouring out and down his face.

Grafton screamed as the crack widened and the two halves of his head began to peel away from each other. With a sound like the felling of a tree, his whole body split into two, the blood and intestines bursting forth as Grafton died in agony.


The medical examiner shook his head as he came to the section headed Cause of Death. After a few moments of thought, he wrote, “chainsaw.” And then, as an afterthought, he added a question mark.

Word Count: 859
For SCREAMS!!! February 02 2021
Prompt: Aftershocks nobody but you can feel.

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