Exo and Endo
flash fiction by Patrick W. Gibson
A substance may exist as a solid, a liquid, or gas — each state governed by the laws of chemistry. But rules have exceptions, are temperature dependent, and may not cooperate, allowing form B to revert to form A without notice. Heat or cold applied chemically or electrically alter motion, powerful tools for stopping and resuming life.
The 10 oz. form lies motionless, its regular and animated motion halted via electrical current in the form of heat. Quickly the prostrate form is uprooted from its long-term lodging and placed into a refrigerated plastic container. Immediately, cold envelopes the mass, and exothermic cooling begins. Gases within the grey ovoid shape become liquid, and existing fluids slow, viscosity rising as ambient temperatures fall. Soon all flow stops and molecular structure changes, liquid transitioning into solid. A digital readout counts down, minus one, minus two, minus three. Each glowing LED monitored with care. The cooling rate slows and the plastic container is sealed. Engines rumble to life, rotors turn, and actions commence.
Two hours later, the mass is reseated in a new but foreign housing, and endothermic heating is initiated to reverse the cold.
The following day I open my eyes for the first time in twenty-six hours. The mass, no longer motionless, beats in my chest, its rhythm regular and strong. Once, it had resided with a twenty-one-year-old nursing student with good grades and a steady boyfriend, who’d made the mistake of riding home from a party with an impaired friend. Now her gift has settled in a middle-aged dentist with a small but loyal practice, me. Although we never met, the two of us have become one. Chemistry halts life, preserves being, and awards living.
Patrick W. Gibson is a Metro Detroit based writer. His short stories and flash fiction pieces favor an urban and working class feel. His work has been published online and in print by The Flexible Persona, Medusa’s Laugh Press, Wraparound South, and Dark Ink Press. Patrick is currently at work on his first novel.
Originally published at Fiction Attic Press.