Author’s Note: Carol Forrester has put up a new speculative fiction prompt for this month. This is my take on it. 😀
He was a man of sorrow painted to resemble a skull. His eyes were painted all around with permanent black. His nose was blotted from the middle of the bridge to the full roundness of the tip. His jawline was streamlined with permanent black.
But he refused to play into the illusion.
He refused to smile.
He sat on the street corner with his empty fish bowl and watched the others as they passed him by.
He watched them and he refused to play their game. He refused to play the role they had carefully designed for him — The Grinning Skull.
He watched them all with closed mouth and haunted eyes.
He watched them all and remembered his life before the invasion.
He remembered smiling and laughing. He remembered flirting with pretty girls. He remembered being handsome and desirable.
He remembered after the invasion.
He had been one of the first to be caught. They had held him in a cell made out of hot blue light while they decided what to do with their first catch. He had been in the cell for an endless amount of time. He still couldn’t remember how long it had been. Then, they came in with their jars of permanent blackening oil.
They had spread it all around his eyes.
He couldn’t get it off no matter how hard he tried.
“You are The Grinning Skull.” they had said inside his head. “You will sit on the street corner and beg for money. Whether you actually get money or not, we don’t care. That isn’t the point of this game. This game is all about seeing your people’s reactions. It will be fun to see how many people avoid looking at you versus how many people look at you and recoil in fear. Maybe some of them will give you money out of pity. We don’t know. That uncertainty is what makes this game so much fun. Be sure to smile at them. The smile is important. It completes the picture perfectly. Oh, just so you know, if you don’t play the game, we will kill you. So, smile pretty for the passing people.”
But he was a man of sorrow and desolation. He couldn’t smile.
He refused to smile.
He wondered if they would carry out their threat.