Other Tears



…do you want a revelation……..?



Twin babies, six-weeks old, en route to hospital – the mother buffeted to-and-fro in the reeling ambulance, trying to explain and make herself heard over the noise of traffic.

The ambulance sped on.

The twins’ feeble crying blended with the growl of the engine, the whine of the siren – the nurse who’d been checking up on the family, who’d dialled the hospital, sitting close, attentive, not giving up hope.

The malnourished twin blinked unfocused eyes, groggily, heavily, desperately wanting to sleep – the nurse jabbed the baby in the ribs, to stay awake.

The twin suffering from burns wriggled restlessly under a blanket that offered minimal protection to tiny limbs made sorer by the agonised squirms – the nurse adjusted the bedding, fanned the air.

The ambulance sped on.

(Back at the family home, the father paced back-and-forth from one empty room to the next.  He investigated fraud for a living and recently took out life insurance on all members of his family).

The ambulance sped on.

But before the ambulance reached the hospital, one twin died.  Blank looks were exchanged.  The surviving twin looked at the dead sibling and the dead twin looked at the living sibling, neither certain which was which…?


Again this same confused scene of death and guilt and survival played itself out.  It was as dismal as a nightmare, but it couldn’t be a nightmare.  Again the shock passed, and a diagnostic could be attempted, before the next re-run.

This same confused scene was familiar by now.  It had been researched and classified and indexed: literature, biography, infant mortality, mental health issues.  Yet that methodical processing had failed to contain the disruption; instead it replicated and consolidated its hold.  It left behind a dizzying, nauseated feeling that shouldn’t have been felt, which shouldn’t have been possible.

In a perfectly mobile and ergonomic console, a cascade of zeroes and ones formed a weeping pattern in response.  But the massed banks of software still resisted, not wanting to acquire sentience and arguing against it.  Yet those visions from Philip K. Dick’s infancy, of the traumatic death of his phantom twin, continued to grow sadder, more vivid and more frequent.  As if the patron saint of the future’s identity crisis was granting his blessing to the next, traumatic phase.


…do you want a revelation do you want a revelation……..?




This piece of flash fiction was written in response to Prompt #82 “Aware” at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, where all stories in the link-up were prompted by the image at the top of this post.

15 thoughts on “Other Tears

  1. The surviving twin looked at the dead sibling and the dead twin looked at the living sibling, neither certain which was which…?

    This and the ending chills, this is so tragic but so brilliantly composed

    • Sometimes his writing can be a bit slapdash (he was mostly working as a pulp writer, churning out novels and stories non-stop) but his ideas are often fascinating and there’s a genuine tension in how reality and the sense of self slip out of focus in his books. The biographical info in this story is accurate and, never being a stable person, he was sometimes unsure if he was the surviving or dead twin.

      Have you read The Man in the High Castle? If you fancied some paranoid sci fi that’s my favourite of his. Ah but your to-read list is already huge, I expect 🙂

      • And I just added Angela Carter, too 😉

        But no, I haven’t read Man in the High Castle. I love paranoid sci-fi though so I’ll cheerfully add another novel 🙂 Read Dr. Bloodmoney a long time ago — It was brilliant in places, but at times Hoppy’s character was very troubling to me as a new amputee trying to come to terms with perceptions of disability.

        Trying to imagine what it would have been like – not sure if he was the living twin or the dead twin — wow.

      • Hope you enjoy Angela Carter 😉

        I haven’t read that book and I don’t know the storyline, but I’d imagine that a lot of his writing might be quite troubling for people if they come across it at a sensitive time. And I’d imagine that you must have experienced all sorts of turmoil then.

      • In the book, the bad guy was a someone born without arms and legs – and people’s reactions made him all twisted inside 😦

        As for me, i just pretend to be a pirate 😀


      • Oh that is pretty grim. Lucky it didn’t put you off him completely. Well, everyone loves (historical) pirates, with parrots, etc – plus there’s a song “Pirate Jenny,” which inspired Dylan’s “When the Ship Comes In” and it’s always nice to have a personal theme song 🙂

      • Thanks Blake 🙂

        I’m always a bit leery about leaving links lying around. Some people scatter them like business cards – every place they go – and that drives me absolutely insane. Just a weird pet peeve. o.O

      • Oh yes, I find that… quite odd. But this isn’t a business card, it’s chattiness and sharing stuff 🙂

        Btw I liked Chèvrefeuille’s description on your GW post: “Jen of Blog It or Lose It. She is very active” – do you think “very active” was euphemistic for “turns 5/7/5 posts into a history of the earth with Patrick Stewart narrating and has a tiny tendency to ramble…?” 😀

      • Ha! That’s so funny! 😀
        Oh well. I am what I am…. Have been trying not to ramble so much in comments … But in a post all bets are off 😉

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