Below is the Flash Fiction story "The Sense" - a selection from "A Flash of Worlds," an eBook of flash fiction stories by Stephen Abbott, published by Abbott ePublishing.
I first noticed my special sense when I was 12. The vision of a dog’s wail was like a wave washing over me. I was in my front yard and quickly called my mutt Fido. But as he ran to me, I heard the simultaneous clang of the trolley’s bell and the wail of my neighbor’s dog, Ralphie.
My eyes shot to the street, and thankfully, Ralphie had only had his tail sliced through by the trolley’s wheels. We renamed him “Lucky.”
The incidents continued throughout my youth. A person’s laugh in the cinema, the breaking of a glass, a horse throwing a shoe - I saw them all, seconds before they happened. I kept this all to myself.
One morning, I saw the newspaper headline and my father’s cry of outrage in my head even before I had made it down the stairs to the breakfast table. We were all shocked and angered by the sinking of the Lusitania, and soon, we were at war, and I was a doughboy, headed to France.
The journey was rough, and I was sick. Seeing myself sick in advance was not helpful, nor pleasant. We were marched to the front, and we relieved a weary division of Frenchmen who were at once happy to see us and resentful of the “Yanks” who, we were told, thought we knew everything.
One morning, as I was making my way through the labyrinth of trenches to deliver a message to a French general, the sense came over me, though it was at first unclear what was to happen. I entered a room carved into the trenches and the hair on my neck bristled. As I began to make my way down the stairs, I quickly turned, grabbed my colleague, and yelled “Get down!,” pushing him to the ground. Just then, the room erupted in fire as a shell hit from the ceiling, crushing several underneath the rubble.
As word of the incident, and my role in it, spread, I was taken to another hand-carved room along the trenches - “To await interrogation,” I was told by my French guard. The tall, arrogant French officer who soon arrived demanded to know what had happened, and why I had foreseen it. Was I a spy? I was asked. No, I replied, as I sat before him.
His long sword seemed wildly out of place in the trenches, and I saw a blurred vision of it knocking a glass from the table in front of me. As he turned, it happened, and I reached out to grab it before it fell.
He was stunned. My hands were bound behind me in the chair, and a French soldier hit me in the stomach. “Did you see that coming?” he said. “Yes,” I replied, “But I could do nothing to stop it.”
Just then, I saw another vision, and was pleased at the face I thought I recognized in the haze. “This will soon be all sorted out,” I said. “The general himself is arriving.”
“What general?,” the officer snarled, just as he looked up to see the door open with a sweating aide-de-camp exclaiming something hurriedly in French.
Following the now stiffly saluting aide was General “Black Jack” Pershing himself, who had heard of my heroics and was concerned for my welfare. The general and I soon left the room, and after a celebratory drink with him I will never forget, I was sent back to my comrades with a story I was accused of making up.
But evidence soon followed. My comrades were amazed at the lieutenants and captains who made daily trips to my division, asking for my pre-cognitions of their units’ fates. I couldn’t help them, of course, since the vision only happened to things and people around me, not in their divisions, miles away. The visits slowed.
Then one day, as I prepared to go on a raid of the enemy’s position, another captain arrived with some foolish question or another. Just then, I had the most powerful vision I had ever seen. The captain saw the changed look on my face, and asked what I had just seen.
I told him, “I am about to go over the top, and my right arm is going to be blown to bits,” I said. “And you are going to be hit by a shell and be killed where you stand.”
And you know what? I was right again.
To buy this eBook, which features Flash Fiction Stories, visit abbottepub.com/flashofworlds.html