What happens when the prophet talks

Experimental philosophical flash fiction

Jim Esch
3 min readFeb 3, 2022

This odd story was originally published in the magazine Cezzane’s Carrot. I’ve revised it here for Medium. I don’t remember too much about its formation. I think it started with the title, and I riffed from there, as if in a trance. If you have interpretations, please share them in the comments. Who is the prophet? Certainly not me. This ain’t autofiction. Plug in your own idea of a prophet and see if it makes any sense. Hope you enjoy the trip.

The prophet talks about leaving his one room house. The house where he was conceived, born, bred, and which he now occupies. No door. No windows. Walls of changing colors.

Yes, he talks about the walls changing colors. Purples, deep red, forest green, sandy rock, painted sky, flesh. Colors he can touch and fondle. With no door to exit from, he talks himself out of his room. Talking to the walls, which he assumes have listened without protest for a lifetime.

He talks about the climbs up mountains of rock. Higher than any building. Stones slip beneath him. He has no time to think, grabbing for secure holds to place his hands and lift his feet. He little remembers the colors of things now. All is instinct and the touch of the rock and the texture of his palms, how the rock rubs off on skin, leaving a mark, how his skin scrapes the rock, leaving a trace there, however fine, of his presence.

He talks about how one man is less than the wake he leaves, the debris left in his name. Whose force is this?

Tramping the ages, whose echo bounces through this valley?

Of the infinite possibilities, is it the accumulation of mouths talking, picking up on something he may have said, for which there is no proof he said it? Only more voices talking — a tree to hang their words on? One thing strikes him as true: it is foolish to reattach fallen leaves.

When he talks, things happen. No questions asked. Only within…without…you can’t really talk about that because it can’t be included. Even this talk doesn’t include it. It just probes the edges of his talking.

He talks about losing his foothold. How when once three limbs held fast to the rock, now only two hold on. He talks to the rock and asks it to rescue him, to allow him a foothold, to allow him to climb again. But the rock doesn’t hear. It is objective, inanimate.


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