Flash Fiction: The Court of the Universe (361 words)

“What is a petsuchos?” Dana asked idly into the comfortable silence that had descended over the apartment. Flicking through the internet on her phone, she sat long-ways on the couch, ankles crossed in front of her, casually hogging the whole cushioned thing while her roommate occupied the floor with a vengeance.

Sadie looked up, chewing on her thumbnail. She pushed one side of her headphones off her ear, silently inviting Dana to ask again.

“What is a petsuchos?” Dana asked. She tapped her phone screen, beginning to search for her own answer. Sadie hadn’t really looked at her, her mind still caught somewhere between the laptop on her right, the notebook and array of papers fanned in front of her and the stack of books that modeled some of the less illustrious portions of the Great Wall of China on her right.

Sadie closed one eye, thinking. “It’s the… son of Sobek,” she said haltingly. She sounded sure enough of it, but paused again, as if she had done a simple translation and was trying to remember what the words that just came out of her mouth meant. “A crocodile with horns and good fashion sense, worshiped in Egypt – somewhere – as the animal manifestation of the god, Sobek. Who was the crocodile god of chaos, the sun, and kidnapping women.”

Pausing with her finger still hovering above her screen, Dana blinked and turned to look at her.

Sadie still didn’t quite meet her eye, her attention somewhere above her while she continued to think.

“The fact that you know things like that makes me fear for the state humanity,” Dana told her.

“The fact that you ask things like that makes you just as culpable in the court of the universe,” Sadie replied without hesitation, turning back to her work.

Dana took a breath to argue, then stopped, unsure what could do sufficient battle with the solid wall that was the back of her roommate’s head.

“That’s fair,” she murmured instead.

“Do me a favor,” Sadie said. She leaned forward to check something at the bottom of a paper that was almost out of reach. “Don’t ask me about Crocodilopolis.”

Dana didn’t.


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