Stephen Coates

Issue 3: Flash Fiction

An Address to the Assembly of the Royal Transience Society,

whose Motto Tempus Fugimus, a Sardonic Echo of Virgil’s Tempus Fugit, Colloquially Rendered as “We Flee Time,” Cannot Conceal its Long and Noble History, to be Delivered in the Auditorium of the Venerable Deakin Hall by Professor Wilfred Golightly, which Name he Finds Ironic on Many Levels Given his Current Travails, a Renowned Scholar who has Written Extensively on the Subject of Impermanence, whose Fame still Reverberates around the World, and who Played a Reluctant but Central Role in the Unfortunate Events of Last November, when this Convivial Fellowship Fractured into the Two Factions Dubbed by a Certain Columnist the Fullers and the Emptiers, those who Celebrate Time’s Fleeting Passage and the Liberation it Brings from our Quotidian Grind, and those who View it as a Burden, a Blight, a Dark Flaw in our Otherwise Pleasant Existence, a Schism Resulting in Acrimony, Lawsuits and at Least One Duel, a Role which was Perhaps Inevitable in Light of his Habit in Recent Years of Building a Bonfire Every Monday Morning in the Courtyard of Squeer’s College and Burning the Fruits of his Previous Week’s Labors as a Practical Demonstration of his Theories and a Symbolic Rebellion Against the Tyranny of Posterity, a Courageous Gesture that has Cost him his Position at the University, his House and his Marriage, said Oration to be Held on the Occasion of the Seventieth Anniversary of the Death of our Esteemed Founder, Sir Patrick Spence, when he Threw his Wife, his Three Daughters and then Himself from the Top of Fontaine Tower, either in a Fit of Madness Caused by his Failure to Reconcile the Tension of Familial Affection and Fear of Loss or in a Moment of Unparalleled Clarity – nay, even Charity – to Release those he Loved from a Condition both Futile and Intolerable, in Emulation of which our Speaker has Publicly Declared his Intention, as the Logical Summation of his Life’s Work, of Performing an Act of Self-Immolation on this Very Stage at the Conclusion of his Lecture.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I shall be brief.”

Stephen Coates comes from New Zealand but is currently living in Japan. His stories have been published in Sky Island Journal, So It Goes, Landfall, Takahe and elsewhere.

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