Francis H. Powell
Flight of Destiny
My first published book is a collection of 22 short stories about misfortune characterized by unexpected final twists at the end of each tale. "With 'Flight of Destiny', I want the reader to squirm at the behavior of some undeniably despicable characters, be charmed by their wit under duress, and be totally drawn into the harrowing world of the oppressed, all while savoring these dark, surrealist stories," says Powell. "'Into this anthology, I have injected my vast accumulation of angst and blended in my warped sense of humor."
What better way to put all my angst into short stories. Born in a commuter belt city called Reading and like many a middle or upper class child of such times I was shunted off to an all-male boarding school aged eight, away from my parents for periods of up to twelve weeks at a time, until I was 17. While at my first Art college through a friend I met a writer called Rupert Thomson, who was at the time in the process of writing his first book “Dreams of leaving”. He was a bit older than myself, me being fresh out of school, but his personality and wit resonated, despite losing contact with him.
________________________________________________________________I had a stint living in Austria, where I began writing. It wasn’t until I moved to Paris, that my writing began to truly evolve. I discovered a magazine called Rat Mort (dead rat) I sent off a short story, in the hope it would match the seemingly dark world the magazine seemed to embroiled in. I got no answer. Not put off I sent two more stories. Finally I got an answer. It seemed the magazine editor was a busy man, a man prone to travelling. It seemed my first story really hit the right note with him. His name was Alan Clark. I began writing more and more short stories, some published on the internet. A bit later my anthology Flight of Destiny slowly evolved, published April 2015, by Savant publishing.
Louisa flexed her fingers and felt with their tips the smoothly rounded casing surrounding her. Her thoughts were hazy. Her mind kept meandering from one indistinct memory to another, suggesting to her that she had been heavily sedated. Worse, as the drugs slowly wore off, the throbbing pain below her waist steadily increased until her lower half felt as though it had been stung by an enormous wasp.
Her husband, Crawford, was a world-renowned surgeon. His private passion was ichthyology, but it is true to say he was a man of eclectic and diverse interests. In his fledgling scientific career, he'd held a defamatory view of art, as it conflicted with his natural predilection towards logic and order. Then one day, he caught sight of a pickled shark in a display cabinet at a business associate's art gallery, awakening within him something new and wondrous.
They'd married when she was still a young student. He'd been invited to give a lecture at her medical school, and she had been blinded by the enormity of his intellect and rapidly-growing fame. If indeed she'd ever really loved him, at least her admiration for him had never flagged.
The much-heralded Professor Crawford Cranston made it clear immediately before their marriage that he didn't want any children getting in the way of his career. Apart from being authoritative, her husband was intolerably possessive, while at the same time showing little interest in fulfilling her physical needs. He'd recently built a research institute, aptly named after him, on the confines of his estate, and was fast becoming reclusive, to the point of maintaining only a small select circle of moneyed friends with similarly bizarre interests.
Unfortunately for them, on the day of the accident they'd both been careless. Somehow, Crawford had found out, and, filled with jealous rage, he'd taken action. Tampering with the steering and brakes of her car being beneath him; he instructed a lackey to perform the
deed. That was probably what her lover had been trying to convey in his last words, she thought. Yes, it was all coming back. Upon being informed by the local hospital of the accident, as well as the death of the driver and the hopelessness of his wife's injuries, Crawford insisted she be placed under his care.
The sound of wheels crunching on gravel momentarily distracted her thoughts. She seemed to have finally arrived at wherever they were taking her. She heard vehicle doors open, and the indistinct sound of human voices. Then she felt the container she was inside slowly sliding out of the vehicle. A moment later she felt the capsule being delicately hoisted and carried by several men the way the way pallbearers might carry a coffin. Shortly, her bearers' footsteps stopped their crunching on gravel and began clacking on marble, creating echoes inside a large building. Suddenly she began to hear familiar sounds.
She could just make out the chime of a grandfather clock, one she knew well. She could even make out the distinctive sound of two dogs sniffing, panting urgently, following on either side of her container. They were her dogs, Bachus and Griffin, she was certain. She was, she felt certain, in Cranston Hall. The tank stopped sloshing. She could hear muffled instructions being given the tank bearers in the brusque manner her husband commonly used when talking to underlings.
The black cloth covering the tank that had been making sight impossible, was unceremoniously pulled off, the brightness of the lightshining on her causing her to blink rapidly and look away. She felt a lurch as the transparent capsule within which she was contained was attached to a winch, which, moments later raised the capsule, leaving her suspended upright, totally naked. Her long golden hair, falling loosely about her chest, covered her breasts from the view of the circle of men gathered in attendance about her.
Upon regaining consciousness, she found her husband, Crawford, standing before the capsule admiring his work, the ultimate synthesis of surgery, science and art. He was taking pleasure in pointing out the details of his outstanding work to his entourage, which had now swelled in numbers, consisting of businessmen who’d paid huge sums to be present at the unveiling. All sick voyeurs, mouths hanging open, eyes agog, they nodded perfunctorily at each point. All peered incredulously at the half-woman, half-fish before them, Crawford's most outlandish accomplishment yet.