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Flash Fiction Friday: Master Remastered

by Kevin L. Donihe

A master of meditation sat on the floor of his custom-designed chamber. There was no washtub, no toilet. No accoutrements or conveniences of any kind. A glass of water was the only thing he could drink, a piece of flatbread the only thing he could eat.

Years before, the master had cut away the dross in his life. He’d retired early from a job, floated away from friends and family members. Perhaps he’d missed some of them at one point, but no longer.


On the twelfth day of a two-week marathon session, the master sensed a presence in his chamber.

Opening his eyes, he saw a man dressed in a white, seamless robe, sitting in the lotus position across from him, knees almost touching his own.


“Who are you?” asked the master.

“I’m you,” said the man.

This man’s robe was identical to that of the master. His face was identical, too. But a red and angry wart grew by his nose. Never had the master suffered such an indignity.

This man was not the master.

The master found him repulsive, yet the master was a handsome, well-built man. Clearly, something beyond his double’s form had triggered the negative thoughts.

Eyes locked on the man, the master peeled away psychic layers to glimpse flesh-hidden truths.

His guest, it seemed, was a foolish seeker who mimicked the words and actions of others yet imagined himself wiser than any guru. He forged a circular path, which he saw as linear. Smug yet undeserving, his capacity for self-deceit was limitless.

Deeper still, his psyche was twisted-up, his moral compass broken. His aura was brown and sludgy, as if tainted by too much time spent in storm cellars or basements. His soul was cancerous.

No doubt he was the sort who would drown kittens and puppy dogs in bags. If he had a wife and kids, he’d beat them.

Yet there he was—sitting before the master, pretending that he shared his wisdom and was privy to all his secrets.

Such gall. Such hypocrisy.

The more the master dwelt on him, the more he realized he didn’t want to just mourn and pity the man. He wanted to rage at him for wallowing in his limitations, for being a laughable human, a phony and a fraud.


Hours passed. Still, the man mocked the master with his presence.

“I hate you,” said the master.

“Makes sense,” he responded.

One of the master’s fists curled. He was tempted to punch the man’s throat.

“Why are you even here?” he asked.

“Can’t say,” the man said.

The master was a finite being plumbing the infinite. He had no time for bullshit. “This is my room!” he roared. “Leave it!”

A dark chuckle: “Can’t do that, either. Sorry.”

Then the man vanished.

Anger drained from the master. Once again, his mind felt unburdened and receptive.

Closing his eyes, he found and linked up with his luminous self.


Two days later, the sound of a buzzer returned the master’s consciousness to flesh.

He opened his eyes. Inhaled. Exhaled. Stretched his arms. Popped his neck

He sipped water, nibbled flatbread.

He broke the lotus position with slight regret.

Warmth flowing back into his legs, he leaned over to massage them, but stopped, looked around the chamber instead.

It wasn’t that its atmosphere had turned oppressive, or he had another visitor. Things simply seemed… backwards.

No matter. He began to rub his quadriceps.

When he reached his calves, it dawned on him.

In his chamber, while meditating, he always turned away from the door. Now, however, he faced it.

Reaching up to his nose, the master felt a wart.



Kevin L. Donihe is one of the most beloved Bizarro authors in existence and an editor for Eraserhead Press. He is the author of House of Houses, Night of the Assholes, and Space Walrus (among others). He is also the editor of the definitive anthology of walrus-themed fictions: Walrus Tales.

3 responses

  1. Esther Brown

    I wonder what themes there are in that flash short story.

    September 29, 2012 at 2:53 am

  2. Ed Ball

    A well-told flash about the ugliness that lurks just below the surface of all of us.

    September 29, 2012 at 8:40 am

  3. Thanks for the comments!

    September 30, 2012 at 9:41 am

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