Written for Flash! Friday vol 3-16. This week’s prompt is a man vs. self conflict, along with this public domain photo.

He fled down an alley and into the back entrance of a little white church. Reshaping his body into a human silhouette, he strained as bony fins contorted into five-fingered hands, and mottled silver skin became a smooth flesh tone. His fleshy barbels trembled beneath his new beard. “Their hats are removable,” he scolded himself. “Not their heads!”

Hemoglobin-rich blood stained the arm of his suit jacket. He dabbed it with his handkerchief as he walked, hoping that no one would notice. He never meant to hurt humans, but they were fragile land creatures, and sometimes their bulbous heads screamed to be removed. That irresistible impulse had forced him to leave London thirty years ago.

In the New World, he had turned over a new leaf, found religion, and learned to control the urges. Until now.

As he emerged into the nave, he blundered into a young lady.

“Oh, pardon me, sir!” the southern belle apologized. “Say, are you our new preacher?”

Such a large hat… “You might call me a man of the Chapel,” he said, forcing a smile. Nearby the choir ladies sat, hats on their ellipsoidal heads and eyes on him. Gill flaps quivering, he strained to remain human. Addiction was so hard to overcome.


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