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Flash Fiction Friday: The Affliction

Each Friday, I will blindly pick a picture card from the board game Mysterium, and set a timer for fifteen minutes. When the timer goes off, the story is done.

Connor threw the wrench onto the messy workbench. He ran his hands through his dark brown, unruly hair. He yelled an expletive and pounded his fist on the table.

"I just can't see what I'm doing wrong," he shouted to no one in particular.

Conner looked around the messy workshop; the same workshop that was left to him by his late father.

"Dad would have known what to do," he said as she sighed deeply and took a swig from the dark bottle sitting next to him.

He turned around and looked at the blueprints he had drawn just last week. He had seemed full of so much hope when he sketched the lines that would help him build a very special robot that could help not just his local town, but possibly the world.

Right now, the whole country was dealing with a major outbreak of disease. People were dying. The disease didn't discriminate as men, women, and children were falling asleep at its evil hand.

A cure hasn't been found yet, and people were starting to think one never would be found. The papers shared the little knowledge the government had: stay home if you can, keep away from people, and only have a gaslight on in the house at night. Don't, under any circumstance use electricity.

It was always this last part that confused Conner. Why not use electricity?

This is why it was important that his robot would run on steam. A robot that could go and administer medical attention to those who were infected. This way the doctors and the nurses could remain safe.

He looked over to the corner of the workbench. There sat a picture of Connor and a red-headed, young woman who was smiling in a park somewhere. It looked like it was summer. The trees were bright green and the sky had never seemed so blue.

"If only I could have made this robot a reality sooner, then Angelina would still be here," he said with a sigh. There wasn't a moment that would go by that Connor wouldn't think about his wife, who died as a result of caring for someone with "the affliction."

Conner stood up straight and took a deep breath. He wasn't going to let this beat him. He would do it for Angelina.

Just then Connor heard a noise. It wasn't loud, it was subtle. If he would have decided to exhale instead of inhaling at that time he might not have heard it. It sounded like a low moan and then a slight rumble.

Connor looked around the room and couldn't see anything. He shrugged it off and set to work again on the robot.

He heard it again. This time a little louder and accompanied by a light scratching noise. He looked around again to see if he could find the source of the noise.

That is when he spotted it; a lamp on a side table was on. It's blub was blazing with a bright light. It stuck out shining brighter than the gas lamps that he had surrounded himself with.

Sweat began to bead on his head as Connor quietly walked over to the lamp. His eyes were darting through the darkness.

"That can't be true about the electric lights," he said out loud to try and reassure himself.

Still, he couldn't shake the fact that he felt like someone or something was waiting for him in the darkest recesses of the room.

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