The Transfiguration by Alan Glynn
When Jack came to, it was dark and the moon was high above him, thin clouds coursing by, the tall grass waving in the breeze. His body ached all over and a clanging pain ran from his head down to his feet. He shuffled onto his knees and saw that his clothes were torn and spattered with blood and that his boots were gone. There was no accounting for this. He shook his head, stupefied, his thoughts forming and as soon dissolving. He knelt still for a few moments, swaying with the grass.
“Jack … over here.”
The whispered voice came from behind him. He struggled around on his hands and knees, breathing deeply. Bracing himself, he rose up and parted the tall grass in the direction of the whispered voice. He started back violently at what he saw. Some twelve yards or so away on a mound in the middle of the field stood his dead father, the appearance of his face changed, his clothes dazzling white, talking with two other men who were equally luminescent and spectral. The man to Sir Lucius’s right Jack recognised unmistakably as the late Lord Liverpool, prime minister of some twenty years ago, and the man to his left he saw was Archbishop Manners-Sutton, who had died in ‘28. Jack gasped in horror at this supernatural vision, as the glow from the tabernacular mound crept through the grass in wispy threads like snakes to envelope him. Turning to Lord Liverpool, as casually as if they were chatting in an alehouse, Sir Lucius said, ‘This is my son. Look at him. Heir to the lot. He’s the image of his mother.’
Jack felt what he imagined to be the weight of the entire planet beneath his feet, as if he were at the vanguard of time and space.
‘And how is your good lady wife?’, Lord Liverpool asked in a hollow voice.
‘Not in the best of health, I’m afraid.’
‘Oh how dreadful! Do give her my warmest regards.’
During this exchange Jack’s eyes met those of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, who appeared to shrug his shoulders and sigh a little impatiently, as if he were peeved at being excluded from the conversation.
‘… agitators, I tell you,’ Sir Lucius was droning on, ‘and my own son up in Dublin drinking and laughing with them, repealers, prostitutes, papists, pamphleteers …’
Jack was dizzy again and felt his stomach surge up out of him; he spluttered and fell once more into the grass. He struggled to stay awake, but sank before long into blackness, face down, members of the busy community of tiny life forms scuttling around the few square inches beneath his face soon prostrate themselves, in heathen awe of Jack’s nostrils which appeared to them as vast cavernous portals leading to a world of mystery and perhaps deliverance.
Alan Glynn is a graduate of Trinity College. His first novel, The Dark Fields, was released in March 2011 as the movie Limitless by Relativity Media. He is also the author of Winterland and Bloodland. You can follow him on Twitter at @alanglynnbooks and on Facebook at AlanGlynnBooks. You can read Alan’s previous flash fiction piece, The Drop, here.
Photo credit: Still of the Night by Iulia H.