Flash Fiction Friday (Saturday): Architecture
by Andersen Prunty
This story appears in Andersen’s latest book, A Driver’s Guide to Hitting Pedestrians. The collection of short stories and flash fiction includes some of his most spectacular stories. If you’re not already a Prunty fan, you’re going to be once you read this story. Driver’s Guide was actually released today by Lazy Fascist Press and you can get it on amazon just as soon as you finish reading this piece.
The architect climbs to the roof of his tallest building and looks out over the city. He’s built all the buildings here. Some of them are small—two or three floors. Others are towering skyscrapers. Like this one. He has to build just one more. It’ll be his greatest construction and then he’ll retire and allow some other architect to move in and build structures that shame his. But he wants to do something different with this one. All the other ones, while his design, were built by construction companies. He will build the next one himself.
Not knowing where else to begin, he goes to the brick store and buys every brick they have. He has them brought to a vacant lot next to the sea. He places the first brick on his back. And then another one. It quickly becomes painful—his arms do not want to move in that direction—but, after a while, it gets easier. The brick store continues to bring him more bricks as they get them in. He continues stacking them on his back. Yes, this is what he wants to build. The tallest building in the city with himself as the foundation. He wants it to be a movable structure but, already, his legs are starting to buckle with the weight and he doesn’t know if this will be a possibility.
Eventually, the building becomes taller than his arms will reach. Each day he stretches a little farther. And his arms stretch with him. The bricks sink into his back and become part of him. This goes on for years. He becomes bent and twisted, his arms a hundred stories long. He doesn’t know what to do with them when he isn’t using them so he keeps them in the lobby. Contrary to his previous belief, he is still able to move around. While his torso has nearly disappeared under the crush of the bricks, his legs have thickened with rippling muscles as hard as brick themselves. Not bad for an old man, he thinks. With his current construction on his back, he wanders over to his previous skyscraper to see how he’s measuring up. It’s close. Only a few more floors, maybe.
Once finished, he is so thoroughly enmeshed with the skyscraper he can’t distinguish himself from his building. His arms remain absurdly long. He raises them into the air and uses them for antennas. His legs are only about a fourth their original length and, while they can support the structure, it becomes dangerous to move, lest everything topple over.
As with the ending of all his previous constructions, he is eager to climb to the top of it. Since he no longer has any body to climb with, he puts his head in the elevator and shoots it up to the roof. There he watches the evening and the fog roll in, the distant ships out at sea and, in the other direction, the twinkling lights of his previous constructions. He feels the cool damp breeze and hears the distant drone of airplanes transporting their sleeping cargo away to another city, careful to avoid the steady blinking of the architect’s fingertips.
Andersen Prunty is the author of the legendary Bizarro Adventure Romance Classics Zerostrata, Jack and Mr. Grin, The Overwhelming Urge, and My Fake War among others. You can follow him or tell him you like him here: http://www.andersenprunty.com.