Flash Fiction: Mannequin

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MANNEQUIN

It wants to be alive, to know sense and have lucid dreams. However, the possibility of a lone storefront mannequin awakening is a dream. Frozen in the bright neon of the city lights, unable to motion her wants or needs, the mannequin remains silent.

Yet even the impossible things can be made real.

One dark cryptic night, a passing couple sees a young man pining at the storefront window. His boots are caked with mud. His neck carries a burdensome chain with a padlock attached, and his hair is the wildest the two have seen. His jacket is of dark scudded leather but his face appears young and solemn. He stands, as if in rapture, parallel to the mannequin. His arms are wildly outstretched. Something mysterious is happening in his mind.

Quietly, he sneaks into the back alley where the store’s employee entrance is located. The couple shuffles their way after they witness the boy wrestle the mannequin to floor level. They do not see him spray paint the large doll with violently bright symbols and letters.

Those symbols are his white magic’s ‘dream and real’ characters. One resembles the antlers of a deer and the other is a pentagram centered within a crescent moon. They are based on Diana, the moon goddess who transformed her admirer into a deer. Actaeon, her admirer, witnessed the solemn Dian bathing. This ancient myth serves as guidance for a young magician who wants to arouse the steepest slumber of the unreal.

The young man bows his head as if in prayer and stretches a stocking mask over his face. He ties a collar of small bells to the stocking. These bells are symbolic of the stars that will witness the transfiguration. Then the boy lifts his arms quietly and moves them hysterically like a saw. He chants the words, “Amadeus, thy treasure sought in blind magenta, I will sigh!” He emphasizes the final word like a thick nail hammered into his own coffin.

To a stranger these words would seem senseless. To the crafty, however, they are words of incision and direction. The boy’s eyes turn dark and shifty.

He moves away steadily, his forehead pale. It is as if the spell aged him 30 years.

Then he leaves from the same door he entered, never to be seen again.

The next morning the mannequin disappeared from the storefront. The town was ripe with gossip as to what happened to her.

After seven weeks, male adulterers were found castrated in the city park unable to mutter a word. Newspaper was shoved down their throats with the letters “AME” written with a dark green marker. Police suspected the perpetrator was a battered woman holding odd religious beliefs.

When a final victim was found, this time he was nailed against the letter “N” on a billboard. His body was lifeless.

Police set up hidden video cameras. They kept manned vans with audio recording equipment near areas where her victims were commonly dumped.

On the evening of New Year’s, a photographic glimpse was caught of the perpetrator. The audio equipment recorded a muffled, thick voice repeating, “Janus the hypocrite…” but some other words were inaudible. However, the video footage clearly showed a non-human aggressor. Symbols, like tattoos, were affixed to her body. They couldn’t be made out, but the word “AMEN” was scrawled on her shoulder.

No one knew who she was. She wasn’t from the city, but probably had some affinity for women and moral contempt for adultery. What brought this being into life?

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Dustin Pickering
Dustin Pickering is founder of Transcendent Zero Press and founding editor of Harbinger Asylum. He is author of the poetry collections The Daunting Ephemeral, The Future of Poetry of NOW: bones picking and death's howl, Salt and Sorrow, Knows No End, Frenetic/No Contest, The Alderman: spurious conversations with Jim Morrison, and O'Riordan: spurious conversations with Dolores. He is the author of the book on aesthetics, A Matter of Degrees. His short story collection, The Madman and Fu, was recently released along with his novella, Be Not Afraid of What You May Find. He is a former contributor to Huffington Post. He has essays in Cafe Dissensus, The Statesman, and Journal of Liberty and International Affairs. He is also a musician, visual artist, and reviewer. He has been placed as a finalist in Adelaide Literary Journal's first short story contest and is a Pushcart nominee for 2019.

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