You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
So here I am to try, and to fail, so I can learn.
Paul Fail. For The Win!

17 February 2011

#FridayFlash The God Box

Friday Flash
The God Box
©2011 D. Paul Angel

Sullivan ambled across the dusty living room floor towards the door.  The knock had been brief, but insistent.  He walked past dozens of his dioramas along the way.  Next to a scratch built David slaying Goliath, in which he had managed to build the giant so he was just falling, was a more esoteric scene from Asimov's Foundation series.  One in several parts, showed Legolas and Gimli touring Middle Earth after the decisive battle in Tolkien's Return of the King.  They were all meticulously built, some over many years while he was still working, and others he was now building in under a week.  Yet every time he would walk by one he would see some new detail amiss.

He had stooped to quickly fix a crater's rim in a scene from Heinlein's Starship Troopers when the knock returned, and reminded him of his task. He opened the door until the chain was just taught and looked uncertainly at the man on the threshold.

"Good day Mr. Sullivan, may I enter?  My name is Michaelus and I have heard much of your dioramas and have something of my own that I'd like to share with you."

"I've never appreciated others work," Sullivan answered slowly, considering; "They never get it right.  It has to be right."

"And do you, Mr. Sullivan, do you, 'Get it right?'"

"Mostly, but not always."

"Well, I have something that I think is quite right, if I may?"

Sullivan noticed a large, square box on the threshold next to him.  Sullivan's deep introversion fought against his innate curiosity and lost.  Before he was quite aware of it, the chain was down, Michaelus was in his house, and the box was on his dining room table.  Michaelus looked appreciatively at the tattoos Sullivan was in the middle of applying to the Illustrated Man.

"Marvelous!" Michaelus said, "So many familiar scenes.  Dante's Inferno, one of each of the Canterbury Tale's tales... But what is this?  I don't recognize it."

Sullivan's heart shrunk.  It was the only diorama he had ever been tempted to outright destroy, but he couldn't.  It wouldn't have been right.  It was the only one he saw no imperfection in, but it was also his biggest hurt.  "It is of the Wilson's down the road.  The little girl on the swing, Sarah, drowned.  I made that to give the family as a memento, but... They called me sick.”

"Surely they are not the only ones you know to have a suffered a loss?"

"No, there have been others," Sullivan replied, feeling his various sadness's with downcast eyes.

"Where are their dioramas, I wonder?"

"I never made any.  I just... Never mind," Sullivan answered, withdrawing once again, "Just show me what you wanted to show me."

The man smiled enigmatically, "It is this.  I call it the God Box."

Sullivan came over and saw that there were brass wheels affixed to the side of the display.  As Michaelus turned them  the diorama's scene slowly shifted, as though from a slow moving airplane close to the ground.  Michaelus stopped at a scene that looked exactly like Sullivan's neighborhood.  The Wilsons were outside in their garden, and the grey, neighborhood tabby was cleaning itself by his mailbox.  He was stunned when he looked past his stained curtains to see exactly the same outside.

"When you say, 'God Box...'" Sullivan began.

"I mean it.  Quite."

Sullivan wasn't sure what possessed him, but he went to the Wilson's diorama and removed little Sarah.  He walked over to the God Box and met Michaelus' eyes.  Michaelus stepped back and opened his hand in acquiesce to Sullivan.

Sullivan placed her by her family than ran to the window.  The Wilson's sort of saw her but were more disturbed than relieved since she appeared as more of a phantasm than a little girl.  As Sullivan turned to go back to the God Box he tripped sending three of his dioramas to the floor.    Sullivan stood and when he looked out he saw that she was almost fully corporeal again.

"What was it about her?" Michaelus asked directly.

"She was... She was innocent.  An Angel.  She, she liked me.  Talked to me.  She was special."

He went to the shelf behind Michaelus and then paused.  Finally he took a diorama from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and smashed it on the floor.  She became almost real.  He smashed the obelisk from 2001 and the sacrifice of Aslan from C.S. Lewis' masterpiece, and her red sweatshirt was no longer translucent.

"How many?" he asked Michaelus desperately.  "I put my life into them.  How many do I have to destroy?"

"All of them," Michaelus answered severely, "You have put your life into them.  That is the life you give her now.  If you choose.  But, you must hurry or you will only restore her so much..."

Sullivan hesitated, then went through his house like a tornado.  He destroyed scenes throughout stories, books, movies, and television.  He had just smashed from Starship Troopers when he looked outside again.  She was with her family, but could not yet talk.  He looked at Michaelus and bolted into the garage.  In the back, packed in a box, was a tiny shoe-box with crude clay figures.  It was his first, Abraham, on the mountain, with Isaac, made 50 years earlier for Sunday school.

With a crash it hit the concrete of the garage, as a simultaneous shriek came from outside.  She was alive, again!  He ran through the house and was almost out the door before Michaelus coughed.  "Would they," he asked gently, "Believe you?"

Sullivan looked over the tattered remains of his little boxes, his little scenes, his little peoples; and wept.  He looked up through the tears to a knock at the door and the sudden entrance of Sarah and her bewildered.

She hugged him, looked up and said, "Thank you."


  1. Very literary, and it has a certain cute sweetness that isn't quite cutesy. She better be grateful.

  2. She is not only grateful, but she convinces her folks to include Sullivan in their lives, to everyone's (eventual) benefit. It just got dropped on the editing floor. But it is laying there next to far more references and diorama details that just had to be cut for the length. In retrospect, this might have made a better serialized trilogy?

    Thanks for reading and the comment, I appreciate it!

  3. Paul, I love, love, love this! The concept, the delivery, just a super, super story!

  4. Interesting that he makes a diorama from fiction, a bit like the set models of the movies.

    Very rich concepts going on here. Good stuff

    Marc Nash

  5. Deanna-- I'm glad you enjoyed it! It's nice to know that it worked. Many times I see more of my mistakes than anything.

    Marc-- I actually had to cut a lot of the diorama details out, but there are quite a few famous scenes Science Fiction there. The closest I've come to dioramas is just enjoying thigns like model RR layouts and similar things. So it didn't strike me as odd at the time. Now that you mention it though, I guess they do primarily tend to be historical in nature.

    Thanks for the comment and the RT, too!

  6. Well told. I found the description of him with his house full of lego dioramas quickly created a picture. Yet, the tug of his feeling for the little girl really brings out the sweetness in this piece.

  7. AidanF-- Thank you. I had more descriptions of them in earlier versions. I didn't actually envision them as Lego ones, so I am curious how I managed to evoke that. I think that's what I enjoy most about flash fiction, you have to leave so much of the imagination to the reader!


Thank you for taking the time to comment, I greatly appreciate it. Kind words are always nice, but please do not hesitate to give me criticism as well. I want to learn and write better, and your critiques are a huge help in that. Thanks!