END OF THE LINE • by C S Morgan

They appeared in the night. On Friday the world went to sleep. On Saturday morning they appeared. Billions of them. As many as there are people. It’s on the news, it’s in the papers, on the radio and on-line. Everywhere. If you’re not hearing about them you see them. Everywhere you go. Lines. Clear like water. Soft as air. They don’t knot. They don’t tangle. They just flow. Through buildings, cars, walls, prisons, trees and bodies. You can’t touch them. Your hand will pass right on through. The only thing we know about them is where they start and where they end. Always from a person and ending at another person.

I look down at my own. It pours out of my neck and slips across the room and disappears through the wall. I wonder where it goes. I feel it pulling me and the curiosity aches. So many have followed theirs but always to heartbreak. Always disappointment at the end of the line. A total stranger. Or someone you never dreamed of.

The theory is, the line is sort of your soul stretching. It gets shorter and fatter the closer you get to the end. The closer you get to the other person. When the two ends touch, it disappears. When the two ends separate again, it stretches the line thin.

My line is skinny. Like everything else about me. All bones and bumps. The other end must be hundreds of miles away. In another country. I push the thought from my mind. I have my wife’s hands in my own. She’s staring at my line. She’s been crying since it appeared. We’ve been together since school. First loves and only loves and all that. I’ve never cheated on her. Never lied to her. Only white lies. The ‘sure you look great in leopard print’ kind of lies.

Now here it is. The biggest lie of them all, flowing from my neck and out of the wall, out of the house when it should be aiming straight for her.

You don’t love me, she says. Our lives have been a lie. I make a pact with her. I tell her I love her and that I don’t care what the lines say. I tell her we’ll ignore them. I tell her we’ve been happy so far and that’s not a lie. She looks down at her line. It’s thinner than mine. She says I’m right. She tells me we’ll get away, make the line so thin it’ll disappear.

We travel west. We don’t even save money, we just go. By the time we get to Germany both our lines are no more than a cotton thread.

We live this way for a while. Hand to mouth. I get work. She gets work. We watch the telly. It shows us soul-mates uniting. Happiness. Strangers becoming lovers.

We sell the telly. It does us no good. I check my line everyday and in the privacy of the bathroom, I know she checks hers.

We carry on. Until my wife comes to my office. I get a call from reception. She sounds panicky. Nervous. I go down to see her and she shows me her line. It’s getting fatter. It’s growing, thickening, expanding before me. With every millimetre she catches her breath.

They must be on an aeroplane, the other person, she says. They must be getting really close, really fast. I sit on the floor. The coldness of the tiles crawls up my back. It’s almost four inches thick, she says.

By the time evening comes her line is a metre wide. I inspect its growth like it’s a tumour. She paces the living room. By ten o’clock the line has doubled in thickness. I start doing stupid things like try to cut at it with a kitchen knife. I tell her we can leave. We could get on a train and go. But she tells me the line will always be there. A map leading straight to her, wherever she is. I beg her. She cries. I cry. But she cries less. Under the pale skin of her cheeks is a flush of pink. She’s excited. She’s nervous too, but not because of me.

She goes to the bathroom. When she comes out, she’s fixed her hair. She smells of perfume and mints. She sits on the settee and bites her nails as her line fills the length of her body. She breathes. In. Out. I breathe. In. Out.

There is a knock at the door.


C S Morgan is a creative writing student who, between coursework, sword fighting and sausage dogs, writes flash fiction in her spare time.


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 average 5 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Tom O’Connell

    Loved this. Brilliant concept, great rising tension and strong ending. Well done.

  • Tom O’Connell

    Loved this. Brilliant concept, great rising tension and strong ending. Well done.

  • Chinwillow

    Wow!!Pretty cool! Waiting to turn the page….

  • Chinwillow

    Wow!!Pretty cool! Waiting to turn the page….

  • Wow. As Tom said, what a brilliant concept. I too loved this story. All of it. My mind is telling me there must be another chapter or chapters just waiting. I want to know more!

    Thank you so much for sharing. This is really great stuff.

  • Wow. As Tom said, what a brilliant concept. I too loved this story. All of it. My mind is telling me there must be another chapter or chapters just waiting. I want to know more!

    Thank you so much for sharing. This is really great stuff.

  • Carl Steiger

    This illustrates what I most appreciate about EDF –it’s a place to encounter truly original ideas. (I myself have never seen anything like this one before, anyway.) To echo Tom, the rising tension was very well done indeed.

  • Carl Steiger

    This illustrates what I most appreciate about EDF –it’s a place to encounter truly original ideas. (I myself have never seen anything like this one before, anyway.) To echo Tom, the rising tension was very well done indeed.

  • Katherine Lopez

    Almost lost me at the beginning, however the strong human elements of the story kept me hooked, and satisfied at the end, which is what science fiction does at its best. Still one can not ignore the quality of the writing which, one hopes, will improve with time and practice.

  • Katherine Lopez

    Almost lost me at the beginning, however the strong human elements of the story kept me hooked, and satisfied at the end, which is what science fiction does at its best. Still one can not ignore the quality of the writing which, one hopes, will improve with time and practice.

  • MPmcgurty

    Lovely. 5 stars.

  • MPmcgurty

    Lovely. 5 stars.

  • joanna b.

    Highly imaginative story. I liked the staccato style in which it’s told. 5 stars. It could be the beginning of a novel. Next chapter: who walks in the door.

    • MPmcgurty
      Good point about the staccato. Amazing that I felt it but didn't realize that's what it was.
  • joanna b.

    Highly imaginative story. I liked the staccato style in which it’s told. 5 stars. It could be the beginning of a novel. Next chapter: who walks in the door.

    • MPmcgurty
      Good point about the staccato. Amazing that I felt it but didn't realize that's what it was.
  • Paul Friesen

    I appreciated most of the story. One thing I found jarring was the description of them heading west until they got to the Germany…How faw is the that? West from Poland? From Russia, From Japan? Without a starting point “heading west til” kinda meant nothing to me.

  • Paul Friesen

    I appreciated most of the story. One thing I found jarring was the description of them heading west until they got to the Germany…How faw is the that? West from Poland? From Russia, From Japan? Without a starting point “heading west til” kinda meant nothing to me.

  • S Conroy

    Great idea. I agree with all the positive comments on the style and originality.
    I’m bothered by what seems to be a contradiction, but it’s equally likely that I’ve missing something and perhaps someone can help out.
    2nd paragraph. So many have followed theirs but always to heartbreak. Always disappointment at the end of the line.
    8th paragraph. We watch the telly. It shows us soul-mates uniting. Happiness. Strangers becoming lovers.
    Perhaps if it hadn’t read ‘always’ (disappointment) I wouldn’t have been irritated. Is the positive outcome in the 8th paragraph a new development which wasn’t there at the beginning?

    • Joseph Kaufman
      S Conroy, I share your confusion as to the about-face of declaring line-following folly but then later saying line-following led to happiness. Additionally, I was confused as to why the man's line was so quickly considered a betrayal when the wife also had a line coming out (at first I thought she didn't). Hard to understand how there can be any sort of admonishment from either side when both people are in the exact same boat. Her tone quickly softened, apparently, as they made their "escape", so that is a small quibble.
      • MPmcgurty
        One of the things I liked about this story was the contradictory nature of the wife. We see it immediately because she's telling him 'you don't love me' when she obviously also has a line, but it's thinner so perhaps she is more frightened than anything. Then, when hers fattens up, she becomes so excited. This story was bizarre, but I could see real people in it.
        • Joseph Kaufman
          That's a good point -- the contradiction was sort of the point... I see what you mean.
    • MPmcgurty
      The contradiction did occur to me, but I guess I was swept away with the rest of it. Maybe my brain told me that the "heartbreak" was the breakup of existing relationships, but that doesn't explain "disappointment". Hmm.
  • S Conroy

    Great idea. I agree with all the positive comments on the style and originality.

    I am bothered by what seems to be a contradiction, but it’s equally likely that I’ve missed something and perhaps someone can help out.
    2nd paragraph. “So many have followed theirs but always to heartbreak. Always disappointment at the end of the line.”
    8th paragraph. “We watch the telly. It shows us soul-mates uniting. Happiness. Strangers becoming lovers.”
    Perhaps if it hadn’t read ‘always’ (disappointment), I wouldn’t have been irritated. Is the positive outcome in the 8th paragraph a new development which wasn’t there at the beginning?
    I’ve also got a geeky question on the second line: Should that not be ‘Half as many as there are people’?

    Overall though, a gripping read.

    • Joseph Kaufman
      S Conroy, I share your confusion as to the about-face of declaring line-following folly but then later saying line-following led to happiness. Additionally, I was confused as to why the man's line was so quickly considered a betrayal when the wife also had a line coming out (at first I thought she didn't). Hard to understand how there can be any sort of admonishment from either side when both people are in the exact same boat. Her tone quickly softened, apparently, as they made their "escape", so that is a small quibble.
      • MPmcgurty
        One of the things I liked about this story was the contradictory nature of the wife. We see it immediately because she's telling him 'you don't love me' when she obviously also has a line, but it's thinner so perhaps she is more frightened than anything. Then, when hers fattens up, she becomes so excited. This story was bizarre, but I could see real people in it.
        • Joseph Kaufman
          That's a good point -- the contradiction was sort of the point... I see what you mean.
    • MPmcgurty
      The contradiction did occur to me, but I guess I was swept away with the rest of it. Maybe my brain told me that the "heartbreak" was the breakup of existing relationships, but that doesn't explain "disappointment". Hmm.
  • I loved this story. It’ll be a tough act to follow.

    • MPmcgurty
      I think you did it very well.
  • I loved this story. It’ll be a tough act to follow.

    • MPmcgurty
      I think you did it very well.
  • Liz Gray

    I loved this. I wasn’t even going to read it yet but it hooked me from the first line (no pun intended, LOL). The best kind of sci-fi imo

  • Liz Gray

    I loved this. I wasn’t even going to read it yet but it hooked me from the first line (no pun intended, LOL). The best kind of sci-fi imo

  • Paul A. Freeman

    This is so original, I can forgive the few shortcomings.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    This is so original, I can forgive the few shortcomings.

  • Jeff Coleman

    This is really fantastic.

  • This is really fantastic.

  • Joy Manné

    OH, very good and imaginative, and original, and terrifying. Yes. Well done.

  • Joy Manné

    OH, very good and imaginative, and original, and terrifying. Yes. Well done.