This week's story is "Forlorn" by Bret Carter. In an abandoned house, Keith learns something about the empty places of the world.
Keith forced his eyes back to the flashlight. "But Marcus said it wasn’t the houses themselves that are frightening. He said it’s something else."
"The emptiness. Marcus said it’s the emptiness around the houses. And inside too. That’s what makes us uneasy. And I have to admit, Mother, that at least for me—he was right."
Saying it out loud made Keith feel a little stronger. "In my philosophy class we were debating whether or not God created evil. Since He created everything, then He must have created evil. But Dr. Edding said the flaw in that argument is assuming evil to be something. Evil is not something. It is the absence of good. Even Satan was created with free will, but he chose the emptiness. That’s why we’re afraid of wastelands. Why we feel uneasy when we learn that atoms are mostly empty space. We’re made of tiny desolations, and that makes us uneasy. It’s the nothing that we fear. Because that’s what evil is. Nothing."
Keith kept going. "People always talk about how those long stretches of Nebraska and Kansas are boring. But Marcus said people are actually sensing something along these stretches that strikes a dark chord in all of us. He called it uncanny emptiness. He said it’s not so much boredom as fear. It’s a reminder the universe is mostly void. The spaces between the stars. The spaces between our brain cells. All our thoughts are leaps across the void."
As her eyes wandered again, her mouth drew downward.
Keith used the pencil’s eraser to tap on the table. She didn’t look at the pencil. She looked at him. He forced himself to stare back. "I say all that because of what Marcus found out about the Millwood House."Bret Carter lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, Colorado. He teaches Bible and English at Hyland Christian School and he preaches at the Miller Street Church of Christ. His fiction has appeared in Perihelion Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, and CrossTIME Science Fiction Anthology. His book God’s Words is currently available on Amazon. Two more of his books will be available Fall of 2016: Life Among the Married People and Paper Bullets: Point-Blank Notions on Writing. And just like every third person you pass on the street, he is currently working on a novel.
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