Last week’s story, Fundo, was about as bad a day as one could have; a hard luck tale.

This week I try to be more Rod Serling-ish. Even though this one is only four hundred words, there is a scene break that changes everything…  enjoy.

The Sun was blinding. He squinted and peered through sweat slicked eyelashes intermittently stuck together. His perspective was refracted through the stinging salty sweat. But there was more to the distortion, another layer. It was like looking through a magnifying glass held out of focus. He blinked more than once for a better view.

The heat seemed to affect his ability to think because he couldn’t remember how he had arrived at this location in this point in time. He was frozen in mid-stride, afraid to act. He wasn’t sure if it would be safe to lower his arms because he held something aloft and it might be important for him to continue to do so.

The heat was intense but the humidity was worse. His whole body felt slick with moisture as if completely basted with olive oil like a rotisserie chicken under heat lamps. A delirious sense of exhaustion overwhelmed him.

His surroundings swam in waves of intensifying heat. Breathing had become a task and he had to concentrate on each super heated and moisture laden inhalation. He felt that his very existence depended on it.

Of what he could see, everything appeared white as if the Sun had bleached it all. He stood in a stark pale landscape, yet he could see a blur of distant color that swam in the waves of humidity. Something seemed to be coming toward him quickly and he wasn’t sure how to prepare for the arrival of whatever it might be. The colorful onslaught of a thing grew exponentially until it was all he could see.

Suddenly the ground rose up and shook. Swirls of dust surrounded him, rising from the ground in a tempest. He kept his footing and continued to hold his arms above his head still believing that to do so was of utmost importance.

The uproar of white dust blotted out the sun and the ravaging heat subsided slowly. He still felt he was in a swelter.


Her dad was coming home today. Elsie watched the cab enter the driveway and then ran straight to the windowsill in her room where she kept her favorite thing in the whole wide world.

It was a snow globe her dad had sent last Christmas, from his tour overseas. The sunlight streamed in the window all day, making the globe hot to the touch. She shook it and the flakes swirled around the figure inside.

The figure, a man with a concerned look that should have been a smile, held a sign aloft that said, Merry Christmas.


That’s the story and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did putting it together.



20 thoughts on “Swelter

  1. Eric J. Krause

    Very neat story! It’s interesting to think of the being inside the snowglobe being hot instead of cold (being called a snowglobe and all), but it makes perfect sense.

  2. Susan Cross

    Loved it. I’ve heard of ‘on the outside looking in’ but this was ‘on the inside looking out.’ Good change. Did you enter it in Alan’s holiday contest? I never had a chance to read the winners.

  3. davidbdale

    So, what caused him to lose consciousness in the first place, or is he perpetually in a state of utter confusion? He’s had a long time to figure things out.

    1. donaldconrad Post author

      Therein lies the surreality of something like this. It is left to the reader to ponder beyond what is presented here. And if you do so, I’ve done my job.

  4. J. M. Strother

    I’d say he put quite a bit of himself into selecting just the right gift for his daughter. I like the surreal connection between the two, the man in the cab and the man in the globe. I see it as hopeful, a permanent link between father and daughter, no matter how many miles lie between. Too bad she unwittingly makes him suffer by keeping him in the sun.

  5. Laura Eno

    Interesting concept! I felt sorry for him…maybe someone could persuade the girl to take it out of the sun? I liked that the ‘snow flakes’ should seem like dust to the sweltering man inside. 🙂


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