This is another flash fiction piece. Like so many others that I wrote, it easily could have been longer.
A New Way
By Ronald Cypress
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and got up to walk through the door. The book was a hardcover and its measurements were:
6.5 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
The entire jacket was silver on the outside; the inside flaps were white. Across the front of the book was the title Heed, My Gallant Disciples written in black block letters. Below the title was the name C.E. McMillian, spelled with the same letters as the title. On the back of the jacket was a picture of a slim, elderly man with white hair. Dressed in a purple and black velvet suit, he stood in front of a mahogany desk. Behind a pair of thin glasses, his eyes looked directly at the camera. There was a smile on his face, and his hands were loosely grasped together in front of him. The sixteen-year-old girl who had just gone through the door and eventually started running had stared at the picture for hours in the past, trying to see what her parents and thousands of others saw when they looked at him.
The front flap of the jacket had four short paragraphs about the purpose of the book. It was meant to show people the way, to elevate them to their highest potential. The running girl had read the book four times and was working through it for the fifth time before she decided that none of it was going to stick with her. She was on her way to being free.
There were four hundred and two numbered pages in the book. Between page two hundred and twenty-one and page two hundred and twenty-two, there was a black bookmark covered with the words Big Orange Used Bookstore written vertically on both sides. There was a picture of three stacked books at the bottom of the bookmark. The bookmark’s color was fading and there were several creases in it. The girl had possessed the bookmark since she was twelve, and she had used it to hold her place every time she read Heed, My Gallant Disciples.
The bookmark was located in the section of the book that went over sacrifices. There was one chapter dedicated to what types of animals should be immolated and how it should be done. The girl had watched both of her parents murder stray cats that they brought home; her parents had also taken the life a few dogs that the girl considered pets. Most of the slaughtered animals ended up being set on fire as the book instructed, but a few had been left lying around the yard.
There was a small tear at the top of page fifty-two. During her second reading of the book, the girl had considered tearing every page in half. There were four paragraphs on page fifty-two, all of them about dedicating one’s life to the new creed. To truly be a disciple, people had to be willing to completely give up what they may have come to believe was true and accept the words of C.E. McMillian, the leading prophet for the gods. The first sentence of the fourth paragraph was:
“One who is burdened with just an ounce of narcissism or pessimism will never be free enough to be touched by the low angels.” (McMillian 52)
The girl’s parents had forced her to spend continuous hours praying to the low angels. They were the ones who were going to save them; they were the connection to the gods.
There were notes and a picture scribed in red on page ninety-five. The girl had put them in the book during her fourth time through it. This is not true was written at the bottom of the first paragraph on the page. The paragraph was about the greatness that came along with following the new prophet and how lives would be enriched by his teachings. Next to the two middle paragraphs was a picture of a girl hanging with a noose around her neck. I hate them all was scrawled at the bottom of the page. The girl had hoped that one of her parents would pick up the book and see what she had put on the page. She was willing to face whatever punishment would be handed to her as long as they knew how she really felt, but neither of her parents ever found the writing.
A brown stain was on page one hundred and eleven. The girl was responsible for the brown mark, but she couldn’t remember accidentally rubbing chocolate onto the page. The subject matter on page one hundred and eleven was partially responsible for the girl running from her home. Written on the page were three paragraphs that discussed how children should be disciplined and fully indoctrinated; there were a few chapters on that topic. The book had encouraged her parents to do what they did to her when they were able to keep her bound and locked away in her room.
But she was escaping from it all. Her parents would no longer be able to force her to digest things that she didn’t want to. She wouldn’t have to get on her knees for them again. Fatigue was starting to set in, but just thinking about the potential for freedom kept the girl going. She would run until she was certain that they could no longer reach her.