Shorts – Kin – Part 2 of 2

It’s something, right? Better than not doing something I suppose. Just about.

Just stuff I am spewing out as I attempt to get into a routine of writing every day (or close at least). Part 1 Here

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The next morning came and went, both men sharing the bed, and Wilson enjoyed a breakfast of toast, Canadian butter, jams and sliced ham left for him on the table where they had drunk together the night before. There was also a small bowl of apples and oranges, and several pastries wrapped in a white napkin which he kept for later, not knowing when or if he would get to eat again.

He then spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon alone, anxiously pacing the room and then flicking through the pages of a small stack of travel magazines he had kept from being thrown away. Bali looked nice, he thought to himself. Quiet. Pretty. He wondered if maybe he could go there? Would anybody know?

He wondered what his other self-had been doing, mindful of the high standards he…they…he set for himself and realised that he had not sync’d, else he would have known. Taking the small device from the bedside table he placed his hand on it and waited. There was the familiar ping, and then…nothing. There was no information from the previous night. No memories, no download. The upload had been successful, and he had assumed that the sync might go both ways but  now it seemed not.

Wilson rationalised the matter away, consoling himself that there was likely never really cause to do a full two-way sync. That wasn’t the process. Not their purpose.

The hours ticked by, and it was soon approaching dinner time, the busiest time of the day. The back and forth of service, of etiquette and the highest standards. Present but not seen in the execution of their intent. He would be alone for some time still, so lay down on the bed, his eyes heavy and the burden of worry a knot in his stomach.

What seemed like only moments later he awoke to the ping of a sync.

“Bali?” said New Wilson standing over him where he lay on the bed. “Really? Nice enough I guess. Pictures certainly looked nice.”

Wilson rubbed his eyes, sitting up. “Where’ve you been? What’s going on? You’ve been to Bali?” he asked.

“Working. I have no idea. And no, you looked at travel brochures, right? “

Wilson bristled. So the sync was one way. “Thanks for the food, “ he said, swinging his legs out of bed and slipping his feet into his slippers. He watched as the man with his face, his life, eyed them and then looked back to him. “What? Something wrong?” he snapped.

“Do you want a drink?”

“No, no I don’t. I don’t want a drink, I want to know what’s going on.”

He watched as two glasses were filled, a full moon creeping from behind thick clouds and illuminating the room as it flooded the room. Wilson sighed, taking the glass. Once more he drank, the warmth filling him. I’m leaving tomorrow.” He said. Both men seemed as surprised as each other to hear the words spill from his lips.

“You can’t.”

“And exactly why can’t I?” Wilson replied. He didn’t really know where he would go or what he would do. He didn’t really know much beyond the confines of the house.

“Because that isn’t what we do. We serve. We wait. We don’t leave.”

Wilson stood suddenly and threw the glass across the room, it hit the wall and shattered. “Bali, I could go to Bali,” he shouted. “I can go anywhere. They’re not coming for me, they’ve forgotten. Something went wrong. I don’t know, I don’t care.”

“How are you going to get to Bali?”

“It doesn’t fucking matter, are you not listening?” Wilson’s face was red, pain shot up his leg. He took a deep breath, his eyes glancing to the open cupboard, the rows of clothes inside.

Wilson watched as the man in front of him stammered “You..you..can’t. You just can’t.”

“I fucking can,“ Wilson snapped. Maybe they weren’t as identical as he had thought. They shared so much but perhaps there was a difference, something beyond memories and dna. Something that couldn’t be simply transferred and that made him far more than service and routine and duty. “get out of the way,” he said pushing past his new self. He heard a glass fall to the floor as he headed towards the open cupboard.

“No, wait,“ came a shout, and Wilson felt a hand on his arm. “Wait. They will come.”

Wilson spun around, an arm swinging and connecting the other man across the face. “I’m not waiting, I don’t want to go.” He shouted, watching a trickle of blood as it ran from the mans lip. They weren’t the same, he thought. He wasn’t him. “Don’t try stop me.”

Before the outstretched arm connected with him a second time Wilson lashed out, striking him once more. Pain shot up his leg and into his back and he grunted as a rage filled him and he threw himself past the outstretched arm and both men fell to the floor in a tangle. A trailing leg knocked over the small table where a lamp sat burning, the room plunged into darkness with only the moonlight streaming in as they rolled across the floor, arms flailing, clenched fists flying and the heavy grunts broken by the sounds of knuckle on bone.

As clouds passed over the moon once more, the room was plunged into darkness and Wilson felt fingers around his throat, nails digging into his flesh, and the air being ripped from his lungs as he felt a blow to his stomach. A guttural roar spilled from him as he flailed, thrashing against the weight of the man who was now on top of him.

“You can’t go, “ he said, fingers tightening and pushing Wilson’s head against the floor. “You have to wait”. Wilson didn’t hear anymore after a bloodied fist connected squarely with something hard in the dark, there was a stifled groan and a hiss of escaping breath followed by a thud. And then there was silence.

Steam curled from the cup in the bright morning light that streamed through the tall breakfast room windows. Sugar cubes plinked as they were dropped into the tea, and there was a tinkle of silver spoon on best china saucers.

A man with dark hair and sharp features took the offered cup and smiled.

“Thank you,” he said, placing it on the table next to his unfolded newspaper.

“Will that be all Sir?”

“Yes, thank you Wilson,” the man said taking up the spoon and stirring the tea slowly. “That’s all.”

“Very good sir,” said the man, turning to leave the room. He stifled a wince. “Very good.”

Shorts – Kin – Part 1 of 2

It’s something, right?

Just stuff I am spewing out as I attempt to get into a routine of writing every day (or close at least).

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Wilson shuffled to the door, soft slippers on hard wood floors and the ache in his right leg causing him to wince as he attempted to hurry as there was a knock for a second time. It was late. The master and lady were asleep, the rest of the staff long gone back to the city. That security had allowed someone through without calling was unusual, but not unheard of.

“Just a moment, “ he called out. His employers were in the far west wing so there was little worry that he would wake them. The lights in the long hall flicked on automatically as he approached the large set of heavy double doors. Through the glass inset into them that ran top to bottom, he could make out the shape of a man on the other side, standing quite still.

Pain shot once more up his leg, and he called out through gritted teeth that he was almost there.

“How may I…” he said as he pulled the door back, the words catching in his throat and falling silent in the cold night air that rushed inside.

“Good evening, “ said the man stood before him. “I am…”

“I know quite who you are, “ said Wilson, the colour drained from his cheeks and there was a tremor in his voice. “You’re me. That’s pretty plain to see. Is it time already?”

The man before him said nothing and smiled. They were identical in every way, indistinguishable and unmistakable. Save for their most recent memories, the last 12 hours at the most, there was nothing to separate them.

They looked each other up and down, somehow this all seemed matter of fact, as if they both expected it. Perhaps it was in their shared DNA and memories, but whatever it was it already had a sense of inevitability for Wilson.

“Im sorry, I haven’t synced since this morning,” Wilson said, pulling the door wider and motioning for him man to come inside. “Master had me somewhat busy preparing for the arrival of guests.”

The other Wilson acknowledged with a nod and stepped inside, noticing the limp as the door was closed behind him.

“It’s the leg, isn’t it. It’s been getting worse for months now and they said there was nothing that could be done.”

The visitor nodded, smiled politely, paused and then spoke. “Shall we return to your quarters? They will be along to pick you up for recycling once you’ve synced.”

Wilson said nothing, nodded, and headed back along the hall. The door clicked locked behind them and they made their way towards a set of wide stairs at the end of the hall. Instinctively, he started to explain that the dining room on the left was for major functions only, already consigned to the inevitable. He knew this was the way things were, he had been here before. Before he could finish he was cut short.

Wilson felt a hand on his shoulder and he stopped, turning around to face himself once more.

“I know, I have your memories, it’s ok. They are in good hands I promise.” His new self said to him. “I know this is scary, but you need not worry. It will be painless, and it is for the best.”

Wilson shrugged off the touch. “It’s just through here, “ he said holding open another door to the left of the staircase. “this is our…”

He paused, sighed, and both men entered the room. It was sparse and clean. Against one wall there was a single bed, with a small bedside table on one side. A thin cupboard stood to the other, one door open and identical sets of clothes were visible hanging neatly. On the other side of the room was a small table and two chairs, a dark wood bookshelf and a low cabinet with a decanter filled with a dark liquid and two glasses.  

“You pour while I sync,“ Wilson said as he sat down on the edge of the bed. He pulled a small flat object from the draw of the bedside table, about the size and thickness of a paperback, and placed his hand on it. There was a low hum for about thirty seconds, and then a high pitched ping that indicated that the sync had been successful.

Both men sat at the round table, drinks in hand.

“When will they fetch me?” Wilson asked.

“Within the hour.”

“And what happens then?”

“I really don’t know what happens to you, but I will be going to bed as I need to be up early to ensure everything is ready for breakfast.”

Wilson laughed and took a long drink from the glass.

“I am sorry,“ said the man. Wilson. Himself.

“No hard feelings at all,” said Wilson. “I guess I thought maybe they would keep me on because…well because they cared, you know.”

Both Wilsons nodded, and they both finished their drinks.

“Another?” Wilson said filling both glasses.

“I’m not sure that I should, I do need to be up in the morning.”

Wilson laughed, “Go on, just one more.” He was incorrigible when he drank, and it wasn’t like he was going to have a hangover the next morning. Or any morning ever after, for that matter.

“Drink up, “ he said, filling their glasses. He was barely hardened against the effects of what was a very good 2023 single Malt he had received from the master as a gift, and he did like to keep it for special occasions, but if not tonight, then when, he told himself.

Wilson looked at his watch as they drank and chatted. Perhaps it was the drink, but he quite liked himself. He was surprisingly eloquent and amiable after a few, and there was a genuine compassion and tenderness that he realised very few people had ever seen, if any.

“When did you start then?”

“You know when I started, “ Wilson replied. “Cast your mind back, it’s all in there. Last one had a nasty fall apparently. But as they say, good help is hard to find, right.”

Wilson raised his glass. “One more for the Road, “ he insisted and filled the glasses once more, spilling some of the malt onto the table. “When did you say they would be here for me?”

“Not long now, given you’ve sync’d they’ll be here any minute.”

“Then to our good health, “ said Wilson, his speech slurred. “Or to yours at least. May you last longer than I.”

“To service.” Said new Wilson downing his drink in one. Wilson was enjoying himself and wondered why he hadn’t done this more. Not with himself, of course. Just generally. Or at least he wondered why Wilson hadn’t done it more. Or something along those lines…

When the next morning came, Wilson opened his eyes, head thumping and mouth dry. He was alone in the room, in his bed. Sitting up he looked about and wondered whether the night before had been a dream. The headache and empty bottle on the table across the room told him it was not. Throwing back the blankets he swung his legs from the bed and slipped into his slippers which were conveniently where he would have left them had he not had far too much whisky.

Scanning his room he noticed his everyday shoes were missing. They should be next to the cupboard. Walking over he opened the doors and counted the hanging jackers, shirts and trousers. One set missing. He checked the wash basket but they weren’t in there. Someone must be wearing them.

Him. Them.

Hours passed, and Wilson pottered around the room. His leg still ached, and was getting worse each day. It was a large house, with endless corridors and stairs, and over time he had just started to break down. The cheaper models did, but they were easily replaced. He should have learned to hide it, he thought.

He straightened the bed, washed the glasses and threw the empty bottle in the waste. He lay down for a while to help ease his headache, and had just up and finished straightening the bed for a second time when the door to the room opened.

“Still here then?”

“Apparently so, yes. Thought they’d have been by now. Have they been in touch?”

“Really don’t know what happens now, “ Said new Wilson. “I suppose you wait.”

“You think?”

Wilson watched as a new bottle of malt was placed on the table.

“I…we…we don’t usually drink that much you know. Just so you know.”

“We don’t? Well it isn’t as good as the one we drank last night but there were plenty in the stores.”

“No,“ said Wilson, not believing that they both didn’t know full well that their ability to handle their alcohol did not match their ability to enjoy it. “Anyway, “ he continued, “doesn’t really matter does it. I’ll be gone soon so you can figure that out yourself.”

But that wasn’t the case at all. The morning turned to afternoon, and afternoon to evening and still he waited. The golden fingers of the late afternoon sun had receded into the darkness, and looking out of the window he gazed up at the stars in the cloudless sky. Far from the city lights they painted the blackness like a net of lights.

Later that evening when they were together in the room once more, drinks in hand, Wilson again asked about being collected and whether the master had been informed that he was still in the house. Apparently Masters didn’t get involved in such matters though, and it was best that the handovers were seamless to spare them the emotional distress of the transitions.

Wilson wondered why he didn’t know this and what else he might not know. He wondered whether this was new information that had not been shared in the sync or if he had simply forgotten. He had after all been here for many years. More than he could recall in fact.

“Well what do we do then? Just wait?” He asked.

“There is no protocol that I am aware of. We wait I believe. Unless you want to contact them yourself. Do you even know how?”

Wilson laughed and sipped his malt. “Hardly going to do that now am I.”

Part 2 Tomorrow…

Shorts – Full Force

It’s something, right?

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.

Darnel threw his bag down onto the floor and slumped into his chair, the cap of his beer sliding between his fingers and onto the floor.


“Is that you?” came an excited voice from upstairs. “I will be down in a minute I’m just getting ready.”


“I wouldn’t bother” he replied taking a long drink and wiping his mouth.


“What do you mean” came the reply. “Aren’t we going to the cantina? What happened?”


“I got busted down to private. Lost my stripes. I really don’t feel like it. Some of the lads will be out and I really do not want to see them.”


Zara popped her head around the corner and peered down the staircase into the living room.

“Honey what happened? Tell me.”


Darnel sighed deeply and finished the beer before opening a second.


“I don’t know babe, I really don’t” he replied. “I screwed up. I think.”


She hurried down the stairs, sat on his lap and kissed his forehead.


“Tell me. Please. What happened.”


He place the bottle on the table and held her hand.


“We were on patrol and I missed a mark. Went clean past me but I swear honey, I am certain that they weren’t the droids we were looking for…”

Shorts – Hunger

Blah blah blah

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.


Before even opening his eyes Harold knew something had happened.  There was the distinctive metallic taste of blood in his mouth and the smell.  God that smell.

His mind raced and slowly he opened his eyes, expectant.

When they met he thought that she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, but with the colour now drained from her face and her lifeless eyes already clouding over he knew that she was now even more so.

He fought the urge to caress her.  To be with her.

Sighing deep he slipped his legs out of bed.

“Fuck, not again…”

Shorts – Tea and Anxiety

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. This was inspired by a piece of art I bought which Ill post about next…

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.


Tea and Anxiety

He sits and watches, patiently, the clink of cup on saucer breaking the silence. Hands fold in his lap as he sets aside the tea and a crooked smile creeps across his snarling lips. He wishes nothing but ill intent, that creeping gloom that overwhelms and petrifies as the Sunday clock marches on to bed time. And bed time, as we know, is the promise of tomorrow and all it holds.

“I don’t want to go,“ the little girl tells her mother, “I don’t like it one bit. They are all horrible to me, especially the boys. The one with the round face pulls my hair when the teacher isn’t looking.”

The mother caresses the girls blonde curls and pulls the blanket up tight around her chin.

“You must ignore them, Cassie,” she insists, “These things pass like all things eventually. When I was a little girl it was just the same and it will get better.”

“Nothing passes,” the creature whispered into the darkness, “nothing passes, no not ever, no never.” He takes up the tea once more and sips from the darkness of the corner of the room, his pale eyes never leaving her.

Cassie breathed deep and turned into the pillow.  It was cold and crisp.

“Nothing passes,” Cassie whispered as her mother stroked her face gently. “You know that, right?”

Cassies mother paused, feeling a cold breeze across her back, and she turned to check that the window had been properly closed.

“That’s not true Cassie,” she said, fiddling with the latch and checking that it was fastened tight. Looking out into the garden she could see flakes of snow starting to drift slowly downwards, caught in the pale light that hung over the back porch.

“It’s going to be…” Cassie’s mother’s voice trailed off as she became distracted by the night beyond the window, the inky black of winter hanging like a pall over the houses that stretched into the distance. Her mind drifted and she watched small plumes of white smoke snake into the windless sky.

“They don’t like you Cassie,” the creature whispered once more, a lyrical lilt in its voice, eyes wild as it climbed slowly up onto the small wooden dresser that sat against the far wall of the room.  It stared directly at her as she lay under her blanket.

“Tomorrow is waiting for you,” it continued, head tilting to one side as it watched the older one pull the curtains closed and walk back over to where the child lay in the bed.

“They don’t like me, mummy,” Cassie said meekly, “please can I stay home tomorrow? My tummy hurts”

“Sleep well,” said Cassie’s mother, placing a kiss on her head. “It will be better in the morning. I promise. And your tummy will be just fine”

“Promises, promises,” hissed the creature into the darkness, it took another sip of tea, eyes bright and ferocious.

“You always promise that,“ said Cassie as she turned into her pillow. “But it never changes.”

The door closed and darkness consumed all. Cassie lay quite still as the creature sat on the dresser and watched her, waiting for her to fall asleep as he whispered indistinguishably into the darkness. Morning would come soon enough, but until then, there was tea to be finished…

Shorts – Shuffle, loop, repeat

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.


Headlights cut through the star specked darkness as Clarissa feathered the breaks of the old pick up nervously, steepling mountain sides to one side and a seemingly bottomless drop to the other. Somewhere in the distance, beyond the lights that flickered at the end of the valley  she could see the moon reflecting off of the ocean as it stretched beyond the small white houses, and out past the small boats that bobbed quietly in the bay. It was a road she felt she had driven so many times before she’d left, but it made her nervous still. Maybe it was the thought of returning home after all these years, or maybe it was just the road. She tried not to think about either.

Tyres squealed as she rounded the tight corners, the scent of the sea already thick in the air and memories of so many summers coming flooding back as she wound down the window to feel the cool night air on her skin. She reached for the battered Bakelite dial on the radio and watched it scroll right to left, the crackle and hiss giving way to a feint music that ebbed and flowed like the tides as she moved in and out of the shadow of the mountain side and wound her way down towards the town.

A battered road sign, pockmarked and faded, told her that it was just three miles to the place she had once called home, the place where she had grown up, and the place she had vowed never to return to. Those brash aspirations of youth now as distant as the life she had left behind.

The radio burst into life once more and it caused her to start, knuckles white as she gripped the old leather steering wheel tightly.

“Shit, “ she said to herself, letting out a nervous laugh. Despite the moon and stars, the sky was still an inky black and the quiet of night added to the anxiety she has sworn would not affect her when she’d decided to return to the old family home.

The woman on the radio was now singing about the troubles that comes from loving a boy with blue eyes and a pickup truck, and she couldn’t help but sympathise, but then smiled as she decided that it was probably the singers own stupid fault for getting in the pickup truck in the first place and that she should probably just stay well away from blue eyed boys if she knew what is good for her.

“Now, now, that’s all a bit cynical isn’t it,” she said aloud to herself as she decided that the quiet of night was a far better option that the woes of the singer and turned the knob on the radio until it made a ‘click’ and fell silent. The road widened and flattened as the roadside markers ticked down from three to two miles, and soon the mountain side was left behind, the ravines disappeared, and tall pines lined the road ahead.

Though she had not been home for twenty years nearly, everything had a familiar feel already. Imprinted memories from her youth resonating as the headlights lit up the last few miles and the trees soon paved the way to the sprawling lawns and large houses that were dotted around the outskirts of town. Speeding up along the long sweep that would bring her home, she smiled as the town church spire appeared over the treetops, still white and bright against the night.

 Reaching down she decided to turn the radio back on and she scanned the dial as she twisted the black know and the thin red marker moved left to right. Music surged and faded, and she continued to search until the signal strengthened and the sound quite suddenly blared from the speakers causing her to start.

“Shit,” she said, heart racing as she looked down, struggling to quicky adjust the volume. The pickup veered towards the middle of the road as the small black knob came off in her fingers.”Oh double shit!” she exclaimed as it fell away into the footwell. It was soon to make little difference, as before she could look up there was a deafening blare of a truck horn over the sound of the music…and then nothing. Quiet.

Headlights cut through the star specked darkness as Clarissa feathered the breaks of the old pick up nervously, steepling mountain sides to one side and a seemingly bottomless drop to the other…

Shorts – Alignment

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.


Part 1 – Jennifer

Her thin, pale fingers still bloodied, Jennifer sat very still in the chair, hands cuffed to the desk in front of her. The room was uncomfortably warm, and the police office sat across from her was sweating more than she was.

“Are you quite okay?” she asked him, quite genuinely concerned as she watched rivulets of sweat run down the sides of his round, pink face. “I’d offer you a handkerchief,” she continued, holding up her hands until the chain clinked against bracket that held it in place, “but as you can see I am somewhat restricted in my movements.”

“Why did you do it?” the office asked, “we know you did it, we have witnesses to the whole thing. What we really want to know though is why would you stab a man through the heart in broad daylight?”

Jennifer said nothing, wishing he would wipe his face. He looked quite unwell and could certainly do to lose a few pounds. That might help. She didn’t mind the warmth particularly, it was actually nice to be warm for a change. This time of year the streets were so very cold, and no amount of blankets or cardboard boxes could stop the cold seeping into your bones.

“Did you know the man? Did he do something to you?” he asked, his eyes fixed firmly on her. “Did he want something from you, was that it?”

Jennifer looked down at the table and shook her head. She could still see his face, eyes wide in surprise, his red lunch pail dropping to the floor and sandwiches spilling at her feet.

From the very beginning she knew that she would have to go through this. There was never a thought that she would get away with it, that was never the point. In fact it was quite the opposite.

“So he was a complete stranger?”

Jennifer nodded again; head still bowed.

For a moment the tone of the officer softened, and he pulled his chair closer to the table and leaned in towards her.

“People don’t just kill complete strangers, do they Jennifer?” he said, “they just don’t do that. Now maybe you ought to tell me why you did what you did, and we can try and figure this whole thing out, eh. Did he hurt you? Is that why you did it?”

Jennifer looked into the face of the officer and sighed. His eyes were kind, despite all he must have seen in his time on the streets. They were very similar in that way she thought, only he was out there by choice.

“I did it, and I would very much like to go back to my cell if that’s okay,” she said calmly, a smile breaking out across her face. “I really do have nothing more to add. I’m guilty,  and its so very nice and warm in there and I believe lunch will be served soon.”

Part 2 – Donna

The door slammed violently, windows rattling, as Frank stomped down the hall. Heavy work boots clattered on the bare wooden floorboards and his voice boomed out.

“Donna, I’m home. Where are you?” His red lunch pail clattered as it was thrown on the small wooden table next to the door.

Upstairs, small feet scuttled and darted and then fell quiet as a sense of apprehension filled the air. A small, soft voice came from the ramshackle kitchen that sat at the back of the house.

“I’m sorry, I’m coming,” it said, a mix of fear and faked enthusiasm. ”it…it’s good to have you home,” she continued.  There was a clink of glass on glass and the sound of a bottle being put back down before she appeared through the kitchen doorway.

She was a small woman, a well-worn dress hung from her, shoulders to ankles, and her hair was pulled in a tight knot. She mustered a smile and it crept awkwardly across her face, a face with too many lines for her still young years. The remains of a bruise around her left eye were still vaguely visible in the dim light and she hurried to meet Frank, holding out a small glass of pale liquor in a thick bottomed cut glass tumbler. It had been part of a set once, not theirs of course, they couldn’t afford such things. Sometimes the family for whom she did washing would give her things they were otherwise going to throw away. As long as Frank didn’t think they were receiving charity, he was happy to not care where the things came from.

“Dinner?” he said taking the glass from her. “I don’t go to work all…”

He stopped his train of conversation as a thump and a crash from upstairs, and there was a small scream before it fell silent, stifled.

Frank roared, instantly enraged, and Donna reached for his arm to try to calm him. She knew it was pointless but she had to try.

“Here, she said,” desperately, “why don’t you come sit down and I will put the television on and I will go sort the twins out.”

Frank waited for a moment, nostrils flared and jaw clenched tight. All day he had worked, he told himself, all day just to come home to this.

“What they need is a dose of discipline,” he shouted, knowing they could hear him.

“I know, I know, please, let me deal with it,” Donna continued, her heart was racing and she knew how this would end.

Frank finished his drink in a single gulp and handed her the glass.

“Let me get you another while you sit, dinner will be ready in just a minute,” Donna said gently leading him into the living room. A large, battered leather chair sat in front of the television, a smaller couch to one side of the room and then very little else bar a few photos on a small side table. Frank dropped into it, and it seemed to groan as he settled in.

“Get me that drink,” he said, fierce eyes darting up to the ceiling and then back to Donna. He reached up and put a hand on her waist, and it took every effort in her not to flinch. He smiled and licked his lips, “good girl.”

Part 3 – Room 101

>>> Transmitting >>>

Cypher: We all set? You sure about this one?

Charon: Good to go. You worry too much. You need to learn to trust me. We’ve done this enough times.

Cypher: Transfers received?

Charon: This one’s gratis. Friend of a friend of a friend, and I was feeling charitable. Your finders fee remains the same though. It’s nearly Christmas, I am feeling charitable.

Cypher: Are you fucking serious?

Charon: Deadly

Cypher: LOL. Such a big heart.

Charon:  And she knows no lawyer right? She knows to just take it on the chin.

Cypher: Now who’s doubting who? She knows the drill. Do not pass go, do not collect 200.

Charon: Matched and dispatched brother, plausible deniability guaranteed. Ive set the server scrub. Tick tick tick…

Cypher: The things people will do for 3 meals a day and guaranteed warmth eh.

Charon: We didn’t start the fire, but we gotta pay the ferryman.

Cypher: You talk a lot of shit.

Charon: Service with a smile my friend.

>>>Transmission end…server reset initiated….>>>

Shorts – The Great Magico

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.


I have always been of the opinion, and remain strident in my certainty to this day, that clowns can just fuck off. And not a little. No, they can fuck well and truly off. They can fuck wholly and utterly and most completely OFF!

And it is with that steadfast clarity of conviction that I found myself sat at an until now run of the mill birthday party for 6-year-olds, beer in hand, when I was confronted by The Great Magico.

Wild eyes and white gloved, fingers torturing balloons and teasing them into twisted animal forms to ear piercing shrieks, he cavorts and darts from child to child. My mouth is dry and my heart races as his wide red lips peel back in a primal snarl revealing teeth with which to rip and tear, or perhaps to eat cake, though I do not wish to prejudge his intent – despite knowing in my heart this is truly a monster in our midst.

I recoil as the garish colours of his clothes flash before my eyes, my white-knuckled hands gripping the paper plate in my lap, an assortment of warm fruits and half eaten chocolate biscuits falling to the floor.

“Do you want a giraffe?” he asks a particularly excited ginger haired boy, and the boy nods and claps his hands, a fiendish contract of desire signed with a mere gesture. He will surely wake in the night when the painted fool returns for payment, mouth wide in at attempted scream that fades to nothing in the darkness.

I try to stand but my legs will not work. He has a hold on me, I can feel it, and I want to scream as bright-eyed girl, the birthday girl, her blood red dress trailing in the grass, runs over to him. Outstretched arms envelop her, pulling her close and she disappears beneath his foul garb. Can no one else see, are they blind to this madness. Surely, they are not blind to the funeral shroud around her lifeless body.

Though what is this? Moments later she is brought back from the precipice, the ferryman perhaps unpaid. The price too steep maybe?

I feel my legs stir, his hold loosened surely through the revival of such innocence in the face of darkness, and stumble to my feet. One in front of the other I attempt to escape his grip as his gaze turns to me, eyes as red as lucifers throbbing cod piece and nostrils flared like a dragon ready to consume me in the fire of his fury.

I fall to the ground, fingers clawing into the clod earth and fallen fruits, like those from the tree of knowledge, soaking through my clothes. The smell of beer catches in my nose, surely it is the breath of the dark jester prince as he prepares to consume my soul. The shrieks and screams of children fill the air. Surely this is it, my end, my moment of judgement.

And then, when things seem at their darkest, she is there once more, a voice as clear as a bell in the night. Sweet and gentle, like rays of light piercing the darkness of the clouds after a storm. She is my refuge, my port, my lighthouse of hope.

“Help daddy up, “she says, and a tiny hand takes mine where I lie.

“Why does daddy smell like toilet?” the small voice asks.

Shorts – Red dirt

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…


Benz waved his arms and screamed to be heard above the thunder of tank fire as a kamikaze drone tore through the air above the squads’ heads. It screamed through a broken window on the first floor of the admin building behind them, shards of glass hanging from the frame like broken teeth, and exploded with a ‘whizz-thump’ that seemed to pull the very air from your lungs before pulling in the walls and then suddenly hurling them outwards.

“Corporal Hill, get your arse out of that crater and over to sat-com,” he shouted, throwing himself to the ground behind the rubble of a small fallen wall to avoid the falling debris of the admin building. Just as quickly he then regained his feet and sprinted across the open ground towards what had once been a wide car park that had welcomed visitors as they approached the long-abandoned robotics factory.

More drones whizzed overhead, cutting through the billowing smoke that swirled around the tanks as they navigated slowly between the falling buildings. Hill pulled his battle jacket tight around his waist as he lay in the high sided crater, still warm from impact with smoke rising up slowly to join the fog of war that lay thick in the air. God only knew why command had sent them this way, he thought to himself. The bots had been waiting for them – as if they knew exactly where and when they would be there, and if they didn’t get out of here soon those drones were going to finish every last one of them off.

“let’s not make this another San Francisco,” Benz barked as he dived into the crater alongside Hill. Three other wide eyed grunts lay across from him with their weapons clenched close to their chests, probably only 16 years old if they were a day. Cannon fodder. There to serve the war effort.

“Evening boys,” Benz said smiling, eyes wild and steely blue. “Enjoying the war are we?”

All three shook their heads and Benz roared with laughter.

“No shit, they never told you it would be like this down in the caves did they”.

Again, all three shook their heads and seemed to shrink even further down into the crater.

For the briefest of moments compassion flickered across Benz’ face before he turned to Hill.

“I need you to get to forward command and let them know just how royally fucked we are. We’ve lost 80 percent of the battalion and it’s turning into a tank graveyard. Visibility is near zero and we can’t stop those kill drones.”

He turned back to the three grunts that were staring intently and listening to the two senior men.

“Oh, don’t worry lads,” said Benz, flashing them a thumbs up. “I’m pretty sure it will be just fine.”

The recruits nodded once more as Benz turned back to hill.

“It probably isn’t going to be fine,” he said as quietly as he could through the din of explosions and gun fire that rang all around.

Hill knew full well fine was the very last thing things were going to be.

“Can you do that for me?” Benz asked, not focussed solely on Hill. “Can you get that message to forward command? All other channels are down. We need air cover and exit or we are toast.”

Hill said nothing. What choice did he have he wondered? What would happen if he said no, if he admitted just how terrified he was and how he really did not want to be a corporal and that he did not even know why they were fighting.

“Hill,” snapped Benz, placing a hand on the man’s shaking shoulder. “So, can you do it for me? While I try help protect those tanks. Can you get that message to them.”

Hill stuttered that he could and scrambled to his knees, ready to leap from the crater. Benz was up in a flash and grabbed a handful of the webbing on the back of Hill’s battle jacket and helped heave him to his feet.

“Go,” he shouted and pushed hill up and over the lip of the crater.

Benz scrambled after him to make sure he had got away and as he raised his head over the lip of the crater he saw Hill ripped clean in half as a low flying drone tore clean through him. He didn’t even get to scream, his middle third was a bloodied mist before he even realised and his top and bottom thirds fell to the floor as his blood seeped into the dust and dirt.

Benz slipped back inside the crater cursing, fists crashing into the steaming earth. For a moment he closed his eyes to compose himself, taking in a deep breath and then exhaling, his breath mixing with the smoke and steam.

He looked across at the three boys across from him, huddled close together, terrified and unable to move.

“Is…is he okay?” one of them asked, a pale faced boy with a shock of red hair peeking out from under his helmet.

Benz smiled. “Oh yes, ran like a whippet after a hare,” he said, obviously lying. He’s probably  half way there already.

The three boys eyed him up warily. They were young and naïve, but not completely stupid.

“Anyway, “ said Benz. “Which one of you is the fastest…?”

Shorts – Dead Accountant walking

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back(September 2022) I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…What concerns me most about this one is that I have no recollection of writing it. How curious.


When the dead rose, yawning graves willingly vomiting up their rancid, worm riddled treasures, there were those that cried that this was surely hell. They thumped their chests and proclaimed – often waving leather bound books – that these were the end of days, and that it was time for judgement and oh boy were we going to be sorry. They insisted that we weren’t to complain because the truth had been there all along, mostly tucked away in the bed side tables in hotel rooms they conceded – but none the less it was our own fault for not believing and not paying attention and we should just get on with what was surely coming our way.

Now obviously I should point out that other faiths and theologies were available for commentary on the matter, and in the main those professing them were also found with leather bound books, different ones, but most generally concurred that we had this coming and there was nothing that could be done now.

That is probably one of the positives of the whole end of the world thing. They were all right to a degree and were able to find common ground at last with a shared message. The smug satisfaction did not last long though as they – like most people – were soon trying – and failing – to avoid the dead because they weren’t at all interested in whether you or any of your newfound friends had a leather-bound book at all. They would quite happily feast on you regardless of denomination or size of your leather-bound book collection.

A few months later those of us that remained were rather convinced that in fact almost everybody – regardless of persuasion – had been so very far from the mark.

The dead it turns out just wanted everything else to be dead too you see. They weren’t at all fussy. Cat? Sure, thing they would happily make that dead. Dogs? Easy pickings. One dead dog coming up. Cow found wandering unsuspectingly. You got it. Deaded. And people? There were plenty of those to make dead so absolutely they were all in on people too. It seemed a straightforward and simple lifestyle, and given they seemingly had none of the complexities and strains of modern life to contend with they could focus all of their energies on making things dead, and they were making a bloody good fist of it.

No, this was not hell, because hell would have been preferable in some regards. At least hell was warm. This was something on a whole new level, well beyond the gnashing of teeth and the wailing of the childless mothers the Old Testament had promised in repayment for our iniquities. There was no horned chap sat on a throne with a pitchfork insisting that we calm down, stop complaining, and bend over for our daily anal probing.

This was worse than hell.

This was London 2042.

Oh, and did I mention I’m dead too? Oh yeah. Pretty unfortunate turn of event but that’s how it goes these days. I had wanted to be an accountant but turns out the universe had other plans.

Guess there are things worse than death eh. Accountant. What the hell was I thinking…

Shorts – Burrito Meltdown

A while back i sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads

Having slowed somewhat in my writing, a while back I sat down to force myself to write 500 words a night. These are some of those word-salads. Unedited, raw, and just done for the hell of it…


In the endless possibilities of eternity there are things of such horror that they have yet to be imagined. Truly, truly terrible things that defy all description and would drive you mad if you were to know just how awful they might be. But on that list of things that have been both imagined and endured, there is the endless torture of being trapped inside a space suit, thousands of miles above the Earth, with your own fart.

Evolutionists would have us believe that homo sapiens, as well as lower and higher functioning mammals, have a natural proclivity to the stench of their own internal brewing as it is an affirmation of ones effective inner workings. Or something like that.

And here, in the darkness of space, on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, Buster Wilde found himself wholly convinced that once that list of universal horrors was finalised there ought to be space made on it for the intestinal effects of government ration 158, beef chilli burrito.

It was not exactly a burrito in a way that a potato is not exactly a bottle of Russian standard vodka, though the chemical constituents would undoubtedly argue to the contrary and persist in their assumption that the dark paste he had endured, if coupled with the particularly large and lumpy potato, were in fact the basis for a rather good start to a night out on the town. They would further assert that they were technically correct in their belief in being a great dinner on the basis of being technically correct. And that is of course the purest form of correct and therefore the most compelling.

This was no night out on the town though. This was an attempt to unjam the launch arm of the satellite docking bay, whilst being suffocated by his own bodily functions.

“Screw it,” he thought to himself as he pulled down on the crowbar that he had jammed under the bent plating that had come loose when the bay doors had opened. He took a number of deep breaths and coughed. A couple more followed and for a moment sprite of light danced before his eyes. A warning light beeped on his wrist panel indicating a drop in oxygen levels, and then it blinked green once more and then went off.

“Everything ok out there?” came a voice over his com. “Swallowed a fly?” they continued, laughing.

Buster watched as the jammed plate came loose and drifted past his visor, spinning slowly. He reached out a gloved hand and managed to grab hold of it, clamping it to the magnetic belt hung around his waist.

“I’m fine,” he replied, “nothing to worry about. Arm is freed and I’m heading back to the lock now.”

Buster pushed himself away from the rail that ran the length of the cargo bay doors and drifted slowly back towards the entry hatch. He watched the Earth thousands of miles below, silent in the inky blackness. The smell had mostly gone now, and only a feint remnant lingered on his pallet. 

“Entering hatch one now,” he said as he swung the heavy handle and pulled the large square hatch cover open.

“That’s good,” came the reply across the com, “now get yourself inside, it’s curry for dinner tonight and you have another scheduled walk out there later – one of the access panels needs bolting down.”

Until Tomorrow #FFC

Another flash fiction quickie.

In response to Fandango’s flash fiction challenge.

Will try keep these to no more than 200 words. Today the photo below was posted by Fandango as a prompt. Head over to see him, hes a thoroughtly decent chap.

After all of these years, she is still the beautiful girl I fell in love with. Though time has taken its inevitable toll, on both head and heart, there is still that same sparkle in her eyes which so ensnared me what is now a lifetime ago.

Lines paint a picture of a life well lived across her face, and even if now frail, everyone assembled in the room knows she remains a force of such joy and ferocious endeavour, and that she carries still more fervently a love quite fierce and unquenchable for those she calls friends or family, of which assembled now are as many as the days she has lived.

Tears hide that glint now though, and as I stretch out my hand to comfort her she turns slowly to where we spent those many nights, sat quietly, listening to the crackle and hiss of the ‘soundies’ she loved so dearly, and which she taught me to adore nearly as much as I adored her.

I hear my name across the hubbub of the busy room, and somewhere there is an open door as I feel the cold air of December blow through me. It will be Christmas soon. One more reason to celebrate, one more year to look back on. One more year with her.

Children’s voices drift in and out of earshot as I watch her, still light on her feet as she embraces old friends, her silver hair pulled in a tight bun on top of her head. I prefer it when she lets it hang loose, the way it cascades around her face and onto her shoulders, and oh the hours I have spent watching her in front of the mirror brushing it. She would laugh and tell me not to stare so much, but these were some of my happiest moments. Just us. Together.

I feel a tug, pulling me away. Probably one of the grand children I suspect. Cheeks red from the cold and hair tousled, eyes bright and filled with mischief. I allow myself to be led away, and the room becomes quiet. And then, in that moment, a sadness and an understanding descends up on me I look down and I am alone, there is no small hand in mine. I smile as I finger the ring that has sat on my finger these fifty years.

In the distant now I see her turn towards me, my favourite dress of pale blue contrasted against the dark backdrop of the room. She brushes the hair from her face and smiles as I mouth my last goodbye.

Bottom’s up!

Something that was sat in my drafts. Probably a response to a long lost prompt.

Through bleary eyes, Walter could make out moving shapes, dark forms contrasted against an expanse of bright white. There was something even brighter directly above him which he thought must be lights, and despite wanting to, he was suddenly very aware that he was unable to move.

“Where am I?” he mumbled, his mouth dry and tongue thick in his mouth.

“Ooh, he’s awake,” said an excited voice from somewhere behind him. “Is it time, can we start?”

“Hello?” said Walter, attempting but failing to turn his head towards the voice. “Is someone there?” he continued, which they most obviously were.

“Soon,” came a second voice in reply. “it’s nearly time.”

It was a calm voice. It was a reassuring voice. It was the sort of voice that doctors and tax accountants use when they tell you that everything is just fine, and you should trust them, and you absolutely should not worry about a thing. It was the sort of voice that would convince you not to worry when, in every possible way conceivable, you absolutely were not fine and you most certainly ought to be worrying.

That is, you ought to worry if you were perhaps fond of the use of your legs or, you would prefer not to spend long lonely nights in a small cell with an aggressive sex offender with a penchant for small-mouthed school teachers simply because you’d allowed your wife’s cousin to do your tax returns.

Which just so happened to be what Walter was. A teacher that is, not a sex offender. Whether his mouth was small or not was entirely a matter of opinion.

Walter called out again, his eyes now growing accustomed to the bright lights and clean starkness of the room he found himself in. He coughed politely.

“Hello, I’m sorry but there seems to be a mistake. I’m not supposed to be here, I’m meant to be at…,” Walter paused, his thoughts were elusive and fuzzy, and just out of reach. There was a vague recollection of a bright light in the dark, and he knew there was a pub involved. Then he remembered. “I’m meant to be at a colleague’s leaving party. Thoroughly good chap, fort years serv-, “

Walter’s words faded into silence as a dark shape blocked out the lights above him, and immediately Walter knew things were not going to be fine. Not at all.

The logical part of Walter’s brain considered telling his vocal cords to scream, and that he probably wasn’t going to make the party and that he had wasted ten pounds on that mug with ‘retired, go ask someone else on it’.

It then quickly decided that it wanted absolutely nothing to do with this entire affair and instead chose to leave Walter’s mouth hanging open, and to go think about anything else apart from what it was seeing. It then promptly took itself into a dark corner with a nice cup of tea, leaving Walter wholly on his own with the creature that stood over him.

“Fetch the probes, little one,” it said with it’s calm and reassuring voice, in a most un-assuring way. “let’s see what this one’s bottom tells us about these people.”

Flash Fiction – A toast to no more tomorrows

A bit more flash fiction…variation on a theme really…

In response to The Bag Lady’s Tuesday photo prompt, pic below.

I sought another pic from Pixabay to go with it as further inspiration..

And I made this. Mostly a stream of consciousness, no real editing, just some fun with an idea…:

______________________________

The ‘click-fizz’ of the opening can caused Brian to stir from his nap. Excited neurons darting across the primary auditory pathways of his temporal lobe, back and forth in frenzied stimulation, a primal response triggered as he slept. His brain processed the inputs, considering past and potential future behaviour in relation to the ‘click-fizz’, the likelihood of a positive outcome to that input, the propensity for one ‘click-fizz’ to result in many more  ‘click fizzes’ and subsequently having a jolly good time being had by all. It then determined that an appropriate response to the stimulation would be to wake up and cause Brian to lick his lips.

“Yes please,” Brian said, reaching out an empty hand and sighing. His eyes opened slowly as his fingers clasped around the can he found placed into them.

“You seen that?” came a response.

Brian opened the can and straightened himself on the bench where he had been resting his eyes.

“Seen what, Carl?” Brian asked, opening the can, and taking a drink. It was not as cold as he would have liked but given the circumstances it would most certainly do. That is to say that given that when he went to sleep, he did not have any beer, and, now that he was awake he did, those were circumstances that now seemed decidedly in his favour.

“That,” said Carl, pointing into the sky.

It was hardly necessary for Carl to point given that directly in front of them, looming over the horizon, was something that was quite obviously the moon, but it stretched from one periphery of his vision to the other. Streams of reflected sunlight danced and swirled from the surface, and it had all of the appearance of a golden ball of flame.

“Well, that’s not mean to be there or look like that, is it.” Brian responded quite matter of fact, taking another drink. He paused for a moment, allowing himself to take in the full scene unfolding before him. Ten years on the streets and you think you’ve seen everything, but here he was, surprised once more. “Probably explains why everyone is running around rather panicked,” he added.

“You think?” said Carl, finishing his beer in one long slow gulp, and dropping the can on the grass beneath the park bench where they sat. He then opened a second.

“I’m no astrologist, but I’m pretty sure, yes. I imagine we ought to be panicking too.”

“You mean Astronomer.” Said Carl. “And yes, we could panic, I guess. But what would be the point.”

“Do I?” Brian asked.

“Yes. You mean astronomer. Not astrologist, that’s something completely different.”

Brian looked up into the sky again, then down to his beer, and then back into the sky.

“I expect you’re right on both points then,” Brian continued, “

He sat for a while and watched as a bride ran past them heading somewhere other than the direction that she was running from. She seemed quite determined, and she let her shoes and bouquet fall to the floor before disappearing behind two cars that had managed to have a quite inconvenient head on collision, smoke billowing from one as passengers staggered from both, pointing wildly at the sky.

“That’s a bit of a waste of good shoes,” said Brian, nodding to where they lay in the street.

“You think?” Carl replied taking another drink and opening a third can before he had finished his second. He motioned to the sky with a can in his hand, been spilling down his arm. “That thing’s getting bigger and bigger, so I doubt very much we will need very much of anything in a while.”

“Really?” said Brian as the wail of sirens echoed out across the city. “How much beer do you have?” he asked.

“Oh more than enough my friend,“ said Carl, offering his can to Brian as a toast, “more than enough.”

Photon – FOWC Prompt response

Just some random waffly bits in response to a prompt

In response to Fandango’s FOWC prompt “Quandary


If you had a telescope, a particularly powerful telescope, and you knew exactly where to look, and you were somewhat lucky and wholly tenacious, and you pointed it in the direction of the Horse Head nebula at just the right time on just the right day then, without doubt, you would still have absolutely no chance of seeing the SS Quandary.

And if you could not see the Quandary, you could most certainly not see her Captain as he stood proudly on her deck, legs akimbo and hands on his narrow hips. The Quandary shuddered and lurched, the auto-grav screaming against the deafening cacophony of sirens. Yet, resolute, he stared out from the bridge, watching as enemy fighters ripped gold and crimson slashes in the vast blackness of space.

He followed a photon torpedo as it tracked through the darkness in front of him, fast in pursuit of one of his combat drones.

“Funny old word ‘Photon,’ he said to himself, tightening the thick black belt around his waist and straightening his crisp white uniform trousers before pulling his jacket tight by the lapels.

“Photon, pho…ton, photon, photon, phooooo ton,” he said to no one in particular, the word bubbling around inside his mouth. He beckoned to a young ensign who was sat at a console to his right, punching away at something that was almost certainly futile and would not make one jot of difference when it came to their impending doom.

“Yes Captain Myers?” said the ensign, looking up from his screen, the pale light of the monitor splashed across his pallid skin.

“Photon, ” said the Captain, “funny old word isn’t it.”

The ensign shifted uncomfortably. It was obviously not a rhetorical question, and given the captain’s tone he assumed the answer was in the affirmative.

“Er, yes, yes it is,” the ensign replied, one eye on the captain, the other on his screen. It was mostly a sea of red and red was never a colour you wanted to see on anything when you were being attacked by an armada of ships that seemed intent on your destruction.

The captain chuckled to himself, silently mouthing the word over and over as he walked slowly forwards towards the vast window that stretched one side of the deck to the other.

The ensign settled back into his seat and returned to his screen. What little colour there was in his face drained as he watched a rather large something beep slowly as it tracked across his screen.

“Sir, ” he said nervously, “Sir, there is something you need to see.”

“Really?” replied Myers slowly as he watched fighter after fighter evaporate into a million glistening shards before his eyes. “Are you sure? It’s just that…”

“Yes sir,” interrupted the ensign. “you need to see it now sir, it is….”

“Oh, no need,” said Myers as he stiffened to attention, his eyes fixed on the thing that was winding it’s way through the drifting mass of debris towards them.

He half turned towards where the ensign sat, the ship shuddering once more and huge geysers of steam bursting from the floor as the lights flickered and dimmed.

“See, look there he said,” pointing out towards where the thing screamed towards them. “Photon…”

Waiting in the darkness…

“Prostitutes. That’s what I miss. Prostitutes.”

In response to M’s weekly story starter prompt of “It was all an illusion hidden by the lack of light.” I did this as a kind of stream of consciousness kind of thing. No planning, just waffle with no real purpose other than to get back to putting letters on the page after a while away. To be fair you can just about swap the word prostitute for any profession. Maybe clowns. Or accountant. Maybe not female jockeys or darts players. meh…

______________________

“Prostitutes. That’s what I miss. Prostitutes.”

“What? What are you talking about.” Came the reply. After a short pause the voice continued, heavy with the air of resignation and the agitated realisation that had he not replied, then he could have avoided the conversation all together. It was seemingly too late now though. “Why are you talking about prostitutes?”

“Well you asked what I miss the most, and having given it some thought I have decided that I miss prostitutes. More than anything.”

A long sigh punctured the silence that followed. There was a vague recollection of a question some when ago. Certainly not recently. Maybe a lifetime ago. Many lifetimes? It was very hard to tell really.

“Dare I ask why, ” the second voice asked, “in a world of infinite possibilities you have decided that the thing that you miss the most, is prostitutes.”

“So, are you asking?” Said the first voice, a measure of something nearing excitement in his tone. Perhaps it was the talk of prostitutes, of even just any talk at all, but after what seemed an awfully long time it felt good to get it off his chest.

“Fine, Yes, I’m asking. Why prostitutes? It’s not like we’re going anywhere is it,” said the second voice. “I shall indulge you this once but then it’s back to saying nothing. Understood?” A moment, or something akin to a moment. It may have been longer, passed before he continued. “And to be certain, you don’t miss your wife or children? Your parents? Maybe your dog? Did you have a dog?” He wondered whether he himself might have had a dog. He thought maybe he might have. He remembered throwing sticks. Or were they spears. Maybe both.” You are absolutely certain that here in this place, a forever away from anywhere, the single thing you miss above all else is a prostitute.”

“Well not just any prostitute.” Said the first voice, now fully engaged with the conversation and his mind firmly fixed on the idea of prostitutes. “A very specific prostitute. With a very specific set of skills.”

Fully expecting a question as to a description of the very specific set of skills the first voice waited until the second voice reluctantly relented.

“Skills?” he asked, his efforts to seem even slightly interested falling very short, but it was all encouragement the owner of the first voice required.

“Oh yes. She was very gifted. She spent time in Mesopotamia apparently, and you know what they say about those Mesopotamian girls.”

The second voice did not know what they said about Mesopotamian girls at all. Or in fact where Mesopotamia was. or is. Or will have been.

“Oh yes” he replied, obviously lying, “they say that …” his voice trailed away.

The first voice laughed loudly.

“You have no idea do you! You’ve never had a Mesopotamian girl have you!”

The second voice sighed again. This time a little louder. If it was possible to muster a passive aggressive sigh without being absolutely certain of the exact state of one’s nose, then this was a sterling effort.

“Oh they are the best. the very best! By far. I knew a trader who swore by the Greeks you know, and once met a Babylonian sailor who could often be found hanging out of the back of an Egyptian, but no, I told them both no, no way at all were they able to compare to the carnal delights of a Mesopotamian prostitute.”

A short time passed, and somewhere in the distance there was the sound of a siren. Or was it a horn. Probably a horn.

The owner of the second voice was trying to remember if he had a dog still, and was now certain that in fact there were spears and not sticks he had been throwing. A dangerous thing to mix up he thought to himself when you have a dog. If you have a dog.

He really wanted to remember.

“Are you listening?” asked the first voice. “Did you hear what I was saying. about the prostitutes?”

The horn sounded again.

“Did you hear that horn?” the second voice asked.

The first voice laughed loudly, his voice now full of memories and longings. “Ill tell you about a horn allright! There was this time in Meso…”

“Shut up!” said the second voice, “”Listen. there’s a horn. I think it might be time.”

“Time? Time for what? Prostitutes?” His laughter roared into the darkness.”

“No. Time. Time to go.”

“Go where?”

“Did you pay no attention at all when you got here. You don’t remember what they said?”

The first voice felt a suddenly ache in his back and reached for where, an eternity ago, he vaguely recalled a searing pain .

“Everything okay?” Said the second voice. “You remembering now are you? What they said? Where we are. Why you’re here.”

“Fucking prostitutes!” the first voice exclaimed violently, “fucking Mesopotamian prostitutes!”

“Aah so you do remember,” said the second voice. “All coming back to you is it. Well if that came as a shock you might want to prepare yourself because I don’t think this next bit is going to be pleasant at all…we are fucked though, if that’s any consolation”

A bottle of hope sat on the shelf – Room 101

Just something about bleached anus’

This is in response to M’s fabulous prompts which you can see here. These used to be 101 words. Sometimes they still are. Sometimes not. They are often snippets, occasionally unfinished and sometimes simply the beginnings of something for another time. Mostly though they are just whatever the words inspire.


“Another,” Balthazar demanded, and slammed his glass on the bar top. His wings bristled, and the dim light glinted on the tips of his horns as he looked around the room. Small wisps of smoke drifted from his nostrils and his thin lips curled up in a sneer, revealing his sharp, white teeth.

A tall, pale faced creature with skin like dirty snow wandered across, his deep blue eyes flashed as he poured a thick, dark liquid into the waiting glass.

“Long day?” He asked. The barkeep pushed the cork back into the bottle, wiped the bar top habitually, and then flicked the cloth so that it sat across his shoulder.

Balthazar snarled and downed the drink, again loudly demanding a refill.

“You sure about that?” Asked the tall, pale creature. “This stuff don’t come cheap you know, and ….”

“Another!” Balthazar roared.

The glass was quickly filled, and then filled once more. The rage in Balthazar’s eyes dimmed slightly with each consumed glass, and by the time he had finished two more he placed the empty vessel quietly.

“Yes,” he said, letting out a long deep sigh.

“Yes, what?” the bar keep asked puzzled, as he offered the bottle once more.

Balthazar placed a hand over the glass and shook his head.

“Long day. You asked me if it had been a long day. Yes, yes it has. Really long.”

The barkeep nodded and placed the bottle back on the shelf behind him as Balthazar continued.

“It’s people you see,” he said, the wisps of smoke now gone and the fire in his eyes dimmed. “You know how it is with them right?” He didn’t, however, wait to find out whether the barkeep did, or did not, know how it was with people and continued. “Every day I get up, clean my horns, sharpen my teeth and ensure that my skin suit is clean and presentable. I’m never late, I stay late, and I give my very best efforts. You know what that gets me?” He asked.

A wide mouthed, bat like creature with ears where its eyes ought to be and eyes where its ears ought to be settled on the bar next to him and looked him up and down. It then caught the attention of the barkeep and asked for two vodka martinis to be delivered to table seven.

“You know how it is with people right?” Balthazar asked it, “you know how they are I’m sure.”

The bat like animal flashed a smile with its ear-eyes and gave Balthazar what he took be a confirmatory nod, and flittered off towards the back of the room where what appeared to be a couple of snakes were having a loud disagreement over the existential power of apple imagery in medieval architecture.

“You see, he knows,” Balthazar said, “he knows what they’re like.”

The barkeep was used to this sort of thing, he tended to see it a lot as the week wore on. First thing Monday morning everyone was filled with the optimism of the week ahead, the potential for pain and suffering, the chance to make a real difference and bring proper misery and sadness. But by Wednesday he could see the doubt seeping in as the long hours took their toll. By Friday the stark reality would dawn on them and they would flock to the bar after work with a pocket full of silver and a big old dose of reality.

“People,” the barkeep said knowingly.

“Exactly!” Proclaimed Balthazar. “See, you get it too. There is nothing that we can do to them that they probably haven’t already done to each other.” He seemed invigorated in finding someone who understood his plight. “Do you know, that just this morning I was doing some anal stretching on a school teacher from California, and do you knwo what she said?”

The barkeep shook his head.

“Bleach. She asked for bleach. Said she wanted to look her best and was wondering if she might be able to put a picture of it it on the ‘gram becasue she was pretty sure none of her friends would believe it.” Balthazar took a deep breath to compose himself, visibly shaking. “Do you know how hard it is to find bleachg down here?” He continued. “But even when I did find some it really wasn’t as if it was my idea, so where’s the joy in that. I had intended to start with gaping and progreess from there. I mean most people finish at gaping, so I set a high bar, professionally speaking. But I just couldn’t relly get into it. She stole all the pleasure from it. Left me with this horrible empty feeling right in the pit of my stomach.”

“That’s out of order,” said the barkeep as he signalled the bat like creature to fetch the drinks for table seven.

“Damn right it is, I had to desecrate a couple of yoga teachers to try and make myself feel better about things, but sometimes even defiled yoga teachers aren’t enough to make you feel good.”

“So what did you do?” The barkeep asked as Balthazar motioned to his empty glass once more.

“2 million likes for a bleached stretched anus,” Balthazar replied, his shoulders slumped and his eyes dark with disappointment. “Two million. I swear, we really should have just left them to it. They dont take anything seriously, and nothing we can do can make it any worse up here…fuck them all.”

The place where silence had a voice

Another from the drafts that I continue to clear out…

Here’s another from my drafts. This one is apparently from October 2019. I don’t remember it at all really. It was one of M’s prompts that I never quite finished (obviosly right). I liked the beginning but never really planned it out, and the end is a bit of a cop out. It’s hardly an original idea, I think it was just s stream of consciousness kind of thing. Oh well, it’s something I guess.  Meh. *Presses ‘Publish’.

________________________

With what should have been his hands, Walter quite unsuccessfully reached for what ought to have been his head and found nothing.

After further exploration he quickly determined that neither his head, nor his hands were in the general vicinity of where one would expect to find them. In fact, without too much effort at all he was able to ascertain that he seemed to be missing rather a lot of assorted appendages and parts. And by a lot, he meant precisely everything.

His leg bone was not connected to his foot bone. And his neck bone was not connected to his back bone. In fact, none of his bones seemed to be connected to any other of his bones in any sort of way that would allow him to sing the song with the measure of confidence he was pretty certain he would have been able to earlier that morning.

In addition, and to compound his growing consternation, Walter also noted that he couldn’t see anything.  Not his non existent hands, or his curiously absent feet. Nor any of his other absent body parts.  Whether it was a deficiency of eyes that was causing the lack of everything else, or whether he indeed possessed eyes but there was simply nothing for them to see he could not tell, and the whole thing really left him feeling rather unwell.

“What the devil is going on?” He said mustering as best a sense of authority as he could, calling upon all he had learned during a two day seminar on ‘Meaningful Management’ in Brighton more years ago now than he could quite recall.  “Is anybody there?  Hello. HELLO!”

“Oh, good day,” replied a voice in the darkness. “I wasn’t expecting anybody, I am sorry.”  The voice was warm and calm, not quite a man’s or a woman’s, just somewhere comfortingly in-between the two.  “Did you have an appointment?”

“Appointment?” Replied Walter, confused. 

“Yes, an appointment, everyone who comes here tends to have an appointment,” replied the voice. “However would we maintain order if we didn’t have appointments.  It would be chaos and that really would not do.  No, it would not do one jot.”

As far as he was aware, Walter didn’t have an appointment and he confirmed as much. He knew he needed to be somewhere, though doubted it was here. It was far more likely he needed to pop to the shops for milk or tea bags. That said, it was was all a little fuzzy and he couldn’t be absolutely certain.

Walter noted that he couldn’t feel his tongue or lips, and that made him wonder how he was managing to speak.

“It’s your consciousness” said the voice.

“What is?”

“You were wondering about where the words were coming from weren’t you.”

Walter managed little more than a mumble in response. 

“I…well you see it is just that….” Walter’s voice trailed away and once more only darkness remained as he waited.

And Waited.

“Ahem,” Walter coughed politely.

“Oh yes yes, so sorry, now about that appointment.  You say you don’t have one right?  Most unusual I must say.”

“Sorry no, I don’t really know what is going on to be honest with you.”

“Best policy that” Replied the voice enthusiastically, “Can’t go wrong with a bit of honesty.  Now let’s clear up this appointment business shall we.”

Walter would have shuffled on the spot had there been a spot to shuffle on. Or feet to shuffle.

“Yes, there’s definitely no appointment.” The voice said. “The book is never wrong and there is nobody due for another one point eight seconds.”

Walter mouthed a silent nothing. He would very much have liked to have something constructive to say, anything, but he had precisely nothing. 

“Well,” continued the voice, “this really is a pickle isn’t it. What are we going to do with you. It’s not like we can just send you back now, is it.” 

It wasn’t as much a question as a statement, Walter thought. 

“Are you sure?” He mustered. “I am pretty sure there is somewhere that I need to be.”

“Oh no, no chance of that. You’re here now. We can’t just stuff you back in now can we. Whatever would those upstairs say if we just went stuffing things where they ought not to be stuffed. It would be chaos. No, no, you’re here now.” 

“You can’t?” Said Walter, remembering where it was that he was supposed to be. “I was supposed to have a job interview this afternoon. In Wimbledon.  Could you maybe not just drop me off there?”

Whether he was being ignored, or the voice had drifted off somewhere to do whatever it is disembodied voices do when people don’t have appointments, Walter did not know, but for what seemed an immeasurable length of time, he waited. And paced. In as much as you can pace without anywhere to pace to or anything to pace with. 

“Good news,” came the voice in the darkness. “We have an opening. I had a word with the boys in lost property and we think we have something that might fit. “It’s not exactly your size but should do the trick.”

Walter did an about turn and then faced back to where he had been originally. “What do you mean by ‘fit’, he asked. “I need to be in Wimbledon. I have an interview. I really cannot be late.”

“Oh no, terribly sorry, but you won’t be going to Wimbledon,” the voice said. “That ship has sailed. Afraid you’re just going to have to settle for whatever we have. Clerical cock up I’m afraid.”

“Sailed? You mean I missed it?” Walter asked. “But it had wonderful benefits and a parking space and….”

“Just step back a little will you,” said the voice. 

Without thinking, Walter shuffled backwards.

“That’s it, just there. Now hold still.”

“But I…now listen here, what do you mean by cock up,” Walter protested, “I want to speak to someone in charge. I have right s you know. This is all very…”

Walter never finished explaining what exactly it was, and he never got to speak to whoever was in charge. The quiet darkness was replaced by a roaring gush of sound and there was an ear piercing scream. All about him he felt a warm wetness, and his chest was tight as his lungs burned.

“Just a little more,” came a voice as the darkness gave way to soft warm light. It was a woman’s voice. “Her head is nearly out…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belugas and dreamlifters

I loved it when I started, hated it by the time I was finished but at least the idea is kind of out of my head now and I can fix it another day.

Been a while, so let’s have a look at M’s prompts. I used to do a lot of these and want to do more this year. This one is from January, but I liked the title, and have been dabbling for many months meaning to get to it. If you’re reading it now I guess I finished it. Kind of. TBH I just wanted it out of my drafts. I think the idea is an interesting one, just lost momentum along the way. Anyway, it’s a draft but as far as I am going with it – it is done. Woohoo.


The Expatria drifted slowly through the inky black of space, Jupiter’s shadow cast across her massive bulk as she rounded the pale moon of Europa and engaged her sub light drives. At over five million tonnes she was the largest of the Heavy Weight Class ships to leave the Martian shipyards, and she was bigger even than the Federal battle cruisers that patrolled the region.

Even in the dark of space she seemed to spark and flicker as light struck the long curves or her upper decks, her gigantic storage tanks buried deep within the bulge at her centre and lower sections waiting to be filled. The distinctive yellow and black Martian livery marked her unmistakably as a Dreamlifter, and as she slowed the small fleet of support vessels about her sprung into life, preparing her for action.

The bridge sat high on the front of the ship, three sides open to the dark of space, and standing on the deck looking out across the surface of the moon, Captain Staines issued his orders calmly.

“Bring her around ten degrees to moon side, nice and easy, ensign. And keep up 10 miles above surface.”

“Yes sir,” came the response from somewhere behind him, and he felt the ship turn slowly, almost imperceptibly. But with 25 years on these birds he could feel her every movement in his bones.

“Engineering, what’s our status?” Staines asked.

Behind him, there were thirty crew sat at long arrays of display banks, arranged in three rows that ran the width of the bridge. Pale green light flickered across their faces as the ship continued to move slowly then came to a halt, hanging above the moon surface.

An angular featured, thick set engineer, his yellow EngCore colours displayed in thick flashes on the shoulders of his dark blue uniform looked up from his display.

“Captain, readouts confirm that all systems are green-for-go, and we are now within harness range of the spike,” he said. His voice boomed across the bridge like approaching thunder and a passing service robot scuttled for cover.

The feint hum of the sub light engines filled the air as they held the Expatria in place against the massive gravitational pull of Jupiter in the distance, the slow hypnotic swirl of the planet’s surface distracting him while the crew waited on his orders. She was a thing of true beauty, and something to be feared if you were foolish enough to stray too close to her.

“Engineering, initiate harness protocols and prepare for harvest.” Staines said, turning back towards the crew. “Time to go to work.”


Barnabas threw a boot across the cabin at Lafayette as she stirred in her bunk.

“Hey, come on!” he shouted as she rolled over, swearing into her pillow. “We’re green, and we need to get our arses in gear.”

Lafayette opened her eyes slowly, and instinctively reached for the bottle next to her bed, noted it was empty and let it fall to the floor as she sat up, tossing the boot back across the room.

“Eat my balls,” she said swinging her legs out of bed and into her her boots.

“Nice,” said Barnabus, “you talk to your mother with that mouth?”

“Thoughts of what I do with my mouth should never even enter your head,” she said, rubbing her eyes and running her fingers through her long dark hair, pulling it into a tight pony tail. “We got a confirmed spike?” She asked.

“Big one apparently,” Barnabus answered as Lafayette got to her feet. She straightened the red overall she had fallen asleep in the night before and pulled the black belt tight around her narrow waist.

“What we waiting for then?” She said, brushing past Barnabus and stooping down to pass through the low cabin doorway.

Barnabus smiled and set off after her. She was one hell of a drinker, but she was an even better harpoon operator, one of the best, and talk was that there was a big one out there.

The clank of boots on steel echoed as they passed the rough the long, dimly lit corridor that ran from the crew quarters low on the stern of the Expatria. On each side service routes branched off and snaked throughout the bowels of the ship, and it was down one of these that Barnabus and Lafayette headed.

“So exactly how big are we talking?” Asked Lafayette without looking back at Barnabus who trailed behind.

“A Neptune event big, apparently,” replied Barnabus, “maybe even bigger. It has be something special to bring us this close to the planet, I reckon.”

Lafayette smiled to herself. Big haul meant big pay, and the Guild paid the best rates in the sector. They held a tight grip on the shipping lanes that crisscrossed the galaxy, and they couldn’t do this without controlling the dark matter that fuelled the faster then light engines that made crossing such huge distances possible.

“And who else is on duty, have they said?” She asked.

Barnabus hurried to catch her up. She had a competitive streak for sure, in fact it was more than just a streak, it was a compulsion to be the best and when you were trying to harness pure dark matter it helped to be motivated.

“It’s you, Jones and Metlichok,” Barnabus answered. “And me and Zulu on radar.”

Lafayette bristled as she slowed and looked back at Barnabus, who was now a little breathless as he struggled to keep up with her.

“Christ, are you fucking kidding me!” Lafayette snapped. “Those jokers nearly got me toasted at Caloris Basin. Jones is a bag of nerves and Metlichock doesn’t give a shit about anything the money. It makes him reckless.” She scrolled through the display on her watch, checking the ship comms for details of who was on duty on the bridge. “I need to see Staines. Is he on deck?”

“And how do you think that will go down exactly?” Barnabus asked. “This thing is big, big time big, and like them or not they get the job done. There are millions of cubes of DM, just waiting to be ‘pooned and you can’t play nicely with the other children. Not a good look on you, you know.”

Lafayette knew Barnabus was right, they wouldn’t change the crew, and this made her angrier still.

“Well they can still eat my balls,” she snapped.

Barnabus grinned. “You seem rather obsessed with having your non existent balls eaten you know.”

“They’re metaphorical, thank you very much. Metaphorical balls. Big hairy ones.”

“Even so, you know, you really do seem very keen to…”

“Okay, enough, enough,” snapped Lafayette, pushing through a set of heavy double doors, “let’s just go to work shall we.”

Barnabus smiled as he followed her through the doors into the wide, low room ahead. “Okay, if you insist.”


“Are we ready to engage?” Captain Staines asked as the Expatria hung above the surface of the moon, her huge shadow cast across the surface. He looked unusually nervous, and strode back and forth across the bridge, his hands his hands dug deep into his jacket pockets.

“All service online and ready to proceed Captain,” came a voice from behind him. “Estimated haul…”

There was a pause and the voice trailed away, a tone of disbelief left hanging in the air.

“Yes?” Prompted Staines

“Sir, it’s of the charts. Readings spiking all over the place.”

Staines turned slowly and faced the room. The dim light of the computer banks lit the pale faces of the crew that sat behind them.

“Is there a problem Ensign?” The captain asked, his voice prickling with frustration. He needed this haul, it was critical to the success of their mission and the Shipping Guild were on the comms hourly asking for updates.

“No sir,” the Ensign replied, “Ive just never seen anything like this.”

Staines fixed him with a stare and waited.

“Sorry sir, no problems reported, we are ready to engage.”

“Then do it.”

The Ensign punched in release codes and a red light lit up the room. A ship wide alert barked out. ‘Extraction protocols live. All hands to stations.’

“Thank you Ensign,” said the Captain. “Comms, send a message to the Guild and inform them harpooning has commenced.”

A wiry haired operator responded sharply. “Yes sir,” he said, looking up, and then returned to his screen, fingers flashing across the flat panel in front of him.

As he punched the ‘transmit’ button all hell broke loose.

In an instant, the Expatria was rocked sideways, and Captain Staines was thrown across the deck and send crashing to the floor against an instrument array that sat raised to the side of the bridge. A screaming whine filled the air as the sub light drives fought to right the ship and lights flashed and flickered as the crew were tossed from their positions and strewn across the brdge.

Horror flashed across Staines’ face as he fought to gain his footing, leaning against the console against which he’d been thrown.

“What the hell was that!” He shouted as a second shudder ran through the ship. A mix of alarms and shouting rent the air as the crew scrambled to regain their positions.

“Massive overload!” Shouted an ashen faced engineer. “Tanks at 98%. Auxillary hold engaged. Integrity steady but outlet manifolds under sever stress Captain.”

Staines scrambled over to his chair on the opposite end of the deck and threw himself into it, pulling the harness straps tight over his shoulders.

“Get me Lafayette on comms now! He barked. “And put radar on heads up. I need information.”

A holoscreen appeared in mid air about a metre in front of where Stanines sat. It flickered for a moment and then the flustered face of Barnabus appeared on it, no longer sporting it’s usual broad smile.

“What the fuck is going on down there?” Stains demanded.

A control panel behind Barnabus sparked and cracked, lights flickering and the hiss of escaping steam mixed with the shouts and cries in the background.

“It’s a Beluga sir,” shouted Barnabus over the din, “a huge one sir, like nothing I’ve seen before, and it’s pissed.”

Captain Staines shook his head. As critical as the ‘pooners were, their superstitions, folklore and spiritual view of dark matter defied all sense or logic, and he knew better than to diminish the very thing that seemed to allow them to harness it.

“Just tell me what you’re seeing, Barnabus,” Staines said calmly.

Barnabus flinched as a heat duct came crashing down and collapsed behind him.

“This thing is after us Sir, from the minute I locked on and issued coordinates to Lafayette it was like it knew we were here and it came straight for us. We didn’t need to try and hit it – it came to us.”

Staines took a deep breath. “Have you unlocked targeting?” He asked. “Have we disengaged.”

“Yes Sir,” Barnabus shouted in terror, his eyes were wide and Staines could see him shaking. “But it’s still after us Sir. It’s a Beluga Sir, and it’s still coming down the system, I can see it, I can feel it!”

There was a loud scream from somewhere behind Barnabus and the screen fizzed and went black. The Expatria rocked and a cacophony of alarms sounded. Staines unstrapped himself from the chair and stumbled towards a door that lead from the bridge.

“Keep her steady!” He shouted and he pushed through the doors. “And keep all channels open on me. I’m going below deck.”

________________

Lafayette righted herself from where she lay on the floor, her head was spinning and there was the metallic taste of blood in her mouth. A searing pain shot up her right leg as she got to her feet and looking down she could see the blood seeping through her coveralls.

“Barnabus! Barnabus!” She shouted. Everywhere was thick with steam and smoke, and the sparking radar consoles threw red and orange shadows across the room. Small fires crackled and hissed and there was a pungent smell of melted rubber in the air.

Barnabus didn’t respond. She called out for Jones and Metlichok, but again, no answer. She tapped the comms piece in her ear, but there was only a feint crackle of static.

“Christ, where are they,” she said leaning against the radar console. It was somehow still functioning, and the usually green screen was awash with the small white streaks that indicated dark matter. Usually there would be a couple at most, but now…well now, there was very little else.

All she could remember was being told it was a big one, and Barnabus looking terrified and then….Nothing. Just this. This complete and total shit show. Lafayette attempted to move in the general direction of the thick double doors that guarded the harpoon bays, but pain flooded through her and she stumbled forward, collapsing once more onto the floor. Her head was spinning and there was a darkness in the periphery of her vision. Realising she was losing consciousness she attempted to drag herself to the door, a thick streak of blood trailing behind her.

Reaching out a hand through the smoke, she grabbed the leg of what she guessed to be one of the heavy tables that stood either side of the entrance doors. Her fingers were bloodied and her breathing was heavy.

“Over here,” came a voice. A familiar voice. It was calm and kind.

“Barnabus!” Lafayette shouted. “Barnabus, where are you. I’m hurt, I can’t…”

“This way, just a little further,” it said, “keep coming towards my voice.”

“Where are you?” Lafayette said, panicked. She was dizzy from the pain and everything now seemed so very dark.

“Just a little more,” said the voice again. “It will all be over soon.” She could hear it, it sounded like Barnabus, but there was something different, she wasn’t so much hearing it as feeling it deep inside her, resonating.

Lafayette pulled herself forward and dragged herself upright using the leg of the table, and sat up against it, breathing heavily. The bleeding seemed to have stopped, though in the smoke it was hard to be certain. She knew it hurt like hell though, and she knew she had lost a lot of blood by the thick red trail she had left across the floor.

“Are you ready?” The voice asked.

“Barnabus…”

“It’s time. It’s over,” the voice continued, “it’s time to join us.”

Before her, the smoke cleared, and Lafayette felt cold creep over her skin. Small pinpricks of light swirled before her, soon joined by more, dancing and flitting back and forth. Her breath misted as she breathed heavily, and slowly the lights took a familiar form. It was Barnabus, formed by the shimmering lights. His eyes were dark, and as he reached out a hand she felt the cold seep deep into her bones.

Lafayette struggled, but she was powerless to move, and as the sparkling hand touched her shoulder she felt her lungs fill with suffocating cold, like she was drowning. She looked down and watched with silent horror as her legs began to turn to dazzling specks of light.

“Come home now, Lafayette,” said the shape before her, thin silvery lips smiling at her. “It’s over now.”

As Captain Staines crashed through the doors, Lafayette screamed, a desperate silent scream, and as she raised a hand before her face he watched as she dissolved into starlight before him, and then, in a moment, she was gone. In a final crescendo of existence, her light swirled high up into the room, hanging from the ceiling and then, it tumbled slowly downwards, settling on the bloodied floor around him like fine snow on a still winter morning.

For a while he just stood there, motionless, heart racing. The room was cold and dark, it was silent, and it was empty. As he stared to where Lafayette had sat only seconds before, the silence was broken by the sudden clicking of fans kicking into life as the ventilation system came online, and the room quickly cleared of smoke as it was sucked from the room.

A small ping sounded behind him and he turned to where one of the radar bays still glowed green. White lights moved across it, darting and swirling back and forth and as he watched they formed a familiar pattern. It was Lafayette, unmistakable.

He reached to touch the screen and the image flickered for a moment, a thin smile across her face. He knew she could see him, just as he could see her, and then again , for one final time, she was gone.

________________

High above the Moon of Europa the Calista circled the wreckage of the Expatria as she drifted slowly in her lifeless orbit, a mile long gash in her side a reminder of the explosion in her tanks that had ended the lives of so many.

From his vantage point on the deck Captain Staines looked down on the graveyard of a ship he had once commanded. Even now, years later, the nightmare of those final moments still haunted him. His nights were filled with the silent screams of the thousands that had perished in the cold of space as he watched, helpless, from the small round window of the lifeboat.

“Are we ready to engage, Ensign?” He asked, his voice wavering.

“Yes Sir, all systems green-to-go.”

“Radar, please confirm status,” he prompted as he turned in his chair to his holo screen.

“Yes sir,” came an enthusiastic reply. The operator was young, barely out his teens, and Staines could feel the excitement in his voice.

“Engage,” ordered Staines. His stomach lurched.

Red lights flashed across the bridge and the hum of the harpoon’s cycling up could be felt throughout the ship. Staines switched his screen to monitor the radar and watched as the small pinpricks of light on the screen blinked out, one by one, and the monstrous containment tanks began to fill slowly.

“All systems normal,” sounded a confirmation from the arrayed banks behind him. “Tanks at 15% and rising. Pressure levels normal.”

Staines breathed heavily, his focus on the screens as the tanks continued to fill.

As the gauges continued to creep slowly upwards across the screen there was a brief flicker on the radar, and then another.

“Radar, report,” he ordered.

“All systems normal Sir,” came the response.

“Engineering, report,” Staines said, sitting upright in his chair and pulling his shoulder straps tight.

“All systems normal sir, containment at 100 percent. No anomalies present.”

Staines continued to watch the screen. It flickered again.

“Radar, report!” He demanded.

“Sir, all systems normal. She’s a big one, but nothing we haven’t seen before Sir.”

“Engin….” Staines’ voice trailed away as the screen flashed from green to an incandescent white. Brilliant pinpricks danced and swirled before his eyes. At first they were random, a confusion of brilliance, and then slowly they began to take shape.

Staines tried to speak but his voice was caught n his throat. He felt unable to move as before his eyes, there on the screen was a face he had seen is his dreams every night. It smiled at him, like a long lost friend, eyes full of wonder and compassion, and then, as the gauges on the side of the screen continued to rise a pained expression crept across her face. The pain turned to a contorted grimace and she mouthed silent exhortations, the remnants of long lost fingers clawing at the edges of the screen.

“Tanks at 50% Sir, anomaly 99% harnessed,” came a confirmation from a dark haired Ensign sat off to his right. “Initiating shut down protocols.”

Her eyes now wild, Lafayette stared out at him, her empty mouth wide in a pained grimace. Tears spilled from her eyes and ran down her starlit cheeks as the hum of the harpoon’s fell silent and slowly, pinprick by silvery pinprick, her image faded from the screen and all that remained was the pale green glow of the radar.

Lafayette, she had come home at last.

Exodus 0.4 – Dust

Just a thing I have been playing with…

I’ll carry on with this a bit. Not sure if anyone will read it but I like waffling on when I am in the mood…I’m still just trying to mostly find time and just keep writing something each day

Other parts are here, here and here

_____________

At about the same moment that Fisher changed her mind from wishing she had never been born to instead wishing that fate on the base Commander, an unfathomable distance away at the far side of the universe – and quite a bit beyond that – a Crenorian fleet dropped out of hyperspace. It then proceeded, methodically and without too much of a fuss, to demolish a quiet and unassuming small planet where just moments before the magical myriad of molecules and circumstance had collided in a ‘just so’ manner to create what would eventually have evolved into intelligent life.

It didn’t. Instead, along with everything else on the planet, it was turned to a collection of space dust and debris in the name of military preparedness.

“Now how about we collect the debris and hurl it into the nearest sun?” Pondered Fleet Marshall Jolt, a broad grin spread across his face from gill to gill. His scales flashed iridescent in the dim light of the bridge and a sharp red tongue flicked from his mouth licking his thin dark lips.

A junior officer shuffled uncomfortably and informed Jolt that it was a practical impossibility though they could spend a few hours firing ion torpedoes at the larger remaining pieces of planet if that took his fancy.

“And are there any living things out there?” Jolt asked, staring out into the inky darkness of space as he stood legs akimbo and hands on hips looking, in his opinion – and this being the only opinion that actually mattered – quite impressive indeed.

“D-d-doubtful sir” the junior officer replied. “Pretty certain the exercise put pay to anything that might have been alone though early scans indicated that the planet was quite lifeless.”

“Hmm, that’s a shame. Would have been nice to do a little hunting.”

The junior officer continued to shuffle his feet uncomfortably. He wasn’t sure that he would class a planet killer class Crenorian warship’s vaporisation of an entire planet as ‘hunting’. He was certain however that he was not going to correct the Fleet Marshall.

“Unfortunate indeed sir. Shall I stand down the armoury for the time being.”

Joltz signed and turned slowly. “Yes I suppose you better if there isn’t anything else worth blowing up. Are you absolutely certain?”

“Afraid so. I’ll stand them down sir shall I.”

“You should probably stand the armoury down then…what was your name again?”

“Drax Sir. Fenorious Drax”

“Oh there is absolutely no way I intend to remember that.” Joltz turned back towards the darkness outside of the ship. “I don’t even know why I asked. Anyway, stand down the armoury for me will you. Looks like there’s nothing else to blow up.”

“Yes sir straight away” said Drax saluting with his clenched fist across his chest and spinning on his heels as he hurried from the bridge.

And it was at this precise moment an unfathomable distance away and then some at the far side of the universe that Cole received, by an apparent incalculable chance, instructions to set his faster than light drives to coordinates that just moments before was the home to a planet that was suddenly no longer there thanks to Fleet Marshall Joltz.

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That will probably be the end of that …for now. 🙂

Fluctuating Follies – Exodus 0.3

A continuation of a start of something perhaps…Just trying to get my juices flowing again

Michelle does a load of great prompts each month. I used to do a lot but less so now. Ill try get back into them I think. Theyre often just snippets of things and seldom more. This one is the glimmer of an idea I needed to get down on paper, using the prompts as ca bit of an idea spark – and like everything else I pretty much just share it whether done or not.

Part 1 of this is here

Part 2 is here

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Admiral Kent stood legs akimbo, hands on hips as he cast his gaze over the bank of screens laid out before him.

“How do I look Fisher?” he asked turning slowly, his once chiselled physique now like too much sausage meat squashed into too little skin.

“Regal Sir” Fisher lied.

“Really? Are you sure?” He placed one hand on a nearby desk and leaned nonchalantly, turned his head as if to look wistfully into the distance. Perhaps at a herd of reindeer on a hill side. He did rather like reindeer. “You don’t think it would look better if I were a little more… relaxed?”

“No not at all sir” Fisher insisted clasping her clipboard tight. “I think you look very imposing sir.”

“Imposing you say?” Kent liked that. He smiled and assumed his previous pose, sucking in his stomach. “And what time will the artist be here?” He asked turning his head so that what he regarded as his good side got what little light there was from the copper wall sconces scattered around the room.

“He’s already here sir. You asked to see Cole first though.”

“I did, I did yes of course. And is my dress uniform ready? I do want to look my best for my portrait.”

“Yes sir, it’s in your quarters.” Said Fisher, her knuckles white as she gripped her clipboard even harder. The lengths she had gone to for her stripes and here she was baby sitting this deluded fool of a man on a pointless mining outpost.

“And the hat too? You haven’t forgotten that right?”

“Hat too sir. Yes.”

“Jolly good. Please send Cole in…”

Cole entered the room and brushed past Fisher. She bristled as he came near and glared at him, nostrils flared. Cole really had no idea why she hated him so much. That is not to say that he did not know why she hated him, he did. But how much she seemed to despise him did seem excessive. He did sometimes wonder if it was displaced passion or maybe an unrequited love kind of thing and all that pining for a lovers touch shenanigans. It could also have been the way he treated her back in flight school. Who knew really, it was one or the other. He never could tell with women, they were a curious thing to him.

Cole continued past Fisher, stopped in front of the Commander and saluted. “You asked to see me Commander Kent?”

The Com turned slowly from where he had been staring at nothing in particular at the other side of the room. It was something he liked to practice as he felt it gave off quite the impressive dramatic effect as he turned back slowly.

“Ah yes, Cole, thank you for coming” he said.

Cole waited. Kent said nothing.

Cole shuffled and looked around as Kent continued to say nothing, again practising his dramatic delivery. He was getting very good at it he thought to himself.

Cole continued to wait uncomfortably, wondering whether the Com had perhaps suffered a stroke. Or perhaps some sort of neural embolism. A newb pilot in his squadron during the Martian wars had suffered some sort of mental schism at the onset of a sortie to scout a Martian moon base, and when his autopilot brought him home the lights had been well and truly turned off and he was most definitely not home anymore.

“Good to see you Cole” Kent said, the dramatic pause apparently concluded. “How have you been?” Cole opened his mouth to speak but Kent didn’t wait for an answer. “You’re going to be heading a mission out beyond the mining belt.” He continued quite matter of fact.

“I see” said Cole surprised. “To where exactly Sir? There’s a whole lot of nothing out there. And some pretty ‘awful somethings’.”

Fisher’s customary scowl broke into something close to a smile. Just getting beyond the belt was dangerous enough given your proximity to Mars, and beyond that very few Earth ships went since the war.

“Well, that’s just the thing Cole, I don’t really know. Orders came through from High Command and that’s really all I know. They asked for you specifically, seems you have something of a reputation and they felt you were the right man for the job. Whatever the job is.”

“And what is the Job Sir?” Cole pressed.

“Absolutely no idea” Kent said, his voice trailing away as he turned slowly away to stare once more into the distance. “That’ll be all Cole, Fisher will give you more details. Departure set for tomorrow at zero eight hundred.”

Fisher grinned as Cole turned without saluting and heading slowly towards where she stood. Her small dark eyes seemed to dance in a way that Cole was certain her body certainly could not.

“Oh and Fisher” Said Kent as Cole reached the door.

“Yes Sir?” Said Fisher tucking her clipboard under her arm and drawing herself to attention.

“You will make sure you make that I have my hat before you go right?

“Go sir?” Fisher said quizzically.

“Yes, really do need it for the picture you know and they asked for you for the mission too so really don’t want you to forget it. I did mention that didn’t I?”

“No Sir, you didn’t” Fisher answered, the smile now disappeared from her face.

“Oh I am Sorry” Kent said. “Really should have mentioned it before now, my memory can be quite terrible at time. Anyway, good luck to both of you, and don’t forget the hat before you go.”

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Here are a few others from way back

https://afterwards.blog/2019/03/11/harvest-room-101/

https://afterwards.blog/2019/03/11/harvest-room-101/

https://afterwards.blog/2019/10/07/the-fizzled-enchantment-and-other-stories-of-ruin-room-101/

Soup sandwiches – Exodus 0.2

A continuation of a start of something perhaps…Just trying to get my juices flowing again

Michelle does a load of great prompts each month. I used to do a lot but less so now. Ill try get back into them I think. Theyre often just snippets of things and seldom more. This one is the glimmer of an idea I needed to get down on paper, using the prompts as ca bit of an idea spark – and like everything else I pretty much just share it whether done or not.

Part 1 of this is here

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“Would you like refreshments sir?” Offered the Nutri-Bot as it hurried alongside Cole as he strode from the deck. It clicked and whirred in hopeful anticipation of a sale, the outline of a small serving hatch in the front of its white cylindrical body pulsing with an inviting blue light. “I am fully equipped to provide all the daily sustenance you require in a single…”

“No thank you” Said Cole, almost apologetically. Re-entry always left his stomach feeling rather uneasy and the nondescript beige the bots served up was the last thing he wanted. They were only machines but they did tend to take it personally when you declined.

“Are you sure Sir?” It asked again, a hint of desperation in it’s voice. “I have a quite delicious lobster bisque available today. Freshly prepared.”

“Is it beige?” Cole asked, knowing full well that it was. It was all beige. Always. This however was all the encouragement the machine required and it leapt into a detailed expose of both the nutritional and existential benefits of lobster bisque. As the bot continued to click-whir Cole quickly packed his flight suit into his rack and put on his orange service overalls. He pulled the belt tight about his waist and his black cap onto his head.

“No, really, I am fine. Thank you” he insisted as he headed for the exit to the hanger while the Nutri-Bot lurched into an explanation of the historical importance of lobster bisque in the pre-Martian war western culinary movement.

And then Cole stopped in his tracks abruptly . The Nutri-Bot ceased click-whirring and then fell silent also. Cole reconsidered his previous position and relegated the Nutri-Bot’s offer to second on his list of things he did not at all want. The last thing he wanted was stood directly in front of him, arms folded, and a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp.

“Hello Cole” snapped Fisher, a sneer creeping across her thin lips. Cole’s eyes were drawn to the stripes on her shoulder.

“Promoted I see” Said Cole.

“Cream rises to the top” said Fisher. She held out clip board in such a threateningly efficient way that it made Cole take a step backwards. “Com wants to see you now on the deck. Double time.”

Cole patted the Nutri-Bot on what was most likely it’s head as he passed through the hanger doors. “She looks hungry” he said smiling.

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Here are a few others from way back

https://afterwards.blog/2019/03/11/harvest-room-101/

https://afterwards.blog/2019/03/11/harvest-room-101/

https://afterwards.blog/2019/10/07/the-fizzled-enchantment-and-other-stories-of-ruin-room-101/

Only Resolve – Exodus 0.1

A start of something perhaps…Just trying to get my juices flowign again

Michelle does a load of great prompts each month. I used to do a lot but less so now. Ill try get back into them I think. Theyre often just snippets of things and seldom more. This one is the glimmer of an idea I needed to get down on paper an like everything else I pretty much just share it whether done or not.

_________________________

Cole sat and stared into the blackness of space, his scout craft threading slowly between the twisted debris of the countless burnt out ships that orbited what remained of the Earth. The massive empty shells, once home to the last of the Earth’s forces, drifted silently, destroyed long ago in the endless wars now forgotten by all but those who clung to the stories of the past.

As a child, he remembered looking to the skies on warm summer evenings and recalled how, from the surface, there seemed to be so many stars, a vast swathe of pinpricks across the curtain of night, but up here, all he saw was the darkness.

The radio crakled into life. It was M. Unmistakably M.

“Hey Cole” she shouted, “you up there feeling all pensive and thinking abnout the darkness?”

Cole smiled and shook his head. She knew him too well. Not that he minded.

“I’ve picked up a deposit of Trilatium in a cruiser in quadrant six. I’m heading over there now.”

“So that’s a yes then” M replied, Cole could hear the smile in her voice.

“Affirmative” said Cole. He never quite knew what to say to her.

“Well you’ll be please to know Fisher wants all ships back Earth side asap so you can get your sweet arse back down here sharpish and stop contemplating the mysteries of the great abyss.”

“Copy that M, I’ll rendezvous with…”

“Sharpish Cole” M scolded, “no rendezvousing, no checking in, no gathering, assembling or fly-bying. Get yourself home now, there’s something going down and brass seem pretty shaken up. “

“Copy that” answered Cole adjusting his nav and tightening his harness. He wasn’t a big fan of re-entry, and these old scout ships has an unnerving ability to come to pieces if you pushed them too hard.

“Oh and Cole, pop by the canteen when you get back will you, you owe me a drink.”

“And why exactly is that?” Cole asked. He was pretty certain that he didn’t owe her anything at all.

M laughed. “God you’re a dense one aren’t you. You’re lucky you’re so damn pretty. Just do as I tell you Cole, I know what’s best for you. You trust me? Right?”

He steered the scout ship through the massive hull of a burnt out Martian destroyer, the blackened levels towering above him on both sides. Once home to thousands of Federation soldiers, now long dead, the place gave him the chills.

“See you Earth side M” Cole answered smiling. “Over and out.”

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Here are a few others from way back

https://afterwards.blog/2019/03/11/harvest-room-101/

https://afterwards.blog/2019/03/11/harvest-room-101/

https://afterwards.blog/2019/10/07/the-fizzled-enchantment-and-other-stories-of-ruin-room-101/

Room 101 – Out of Reach

It’s been far too long, and sometimes anything will do…

I used to do these – 101 words only. This might be a bit longer. This is also using one of M’s prompts.

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Rosa clasped the stem of the rose tight in her palm, its sharp barbs digging into her skin. The pain made her feel alive and she squeezed tighter, not wanting to let go.

“Why are you so upset?” Carlo asked, the cold wind blowing through him as he watched the tears roll down her cheeks. “You know it will be okay. It always is.”

Rosa shook her head and sighed deeply, pulling her dark coat tight about her as the rain began to fall.

“You said you wouldn’t leave me.” she whispered to herself.

“But I came back” Carlo replied trying to catch her eye as she stared at the ground. “I said I would and I did right? I promised. I kept my promise Rosa.”

Rosa shook her head and began to turn, the wind catching her hair as it did and blowing it across the soft pale features of her face.

Carlo reached for her, desperate to touch her, to wipe her tears and make everything better, but she slipped through his fingers and before he could stop her she walked slowly away.

“Rosa wait” he shouted, he tried to move but felt paralysed. “I’m back now Rosa.” His words trailed off as they were strangled by the wind. And then, for the briefest moment Rosa stopped and began to turn, but shaking her head once more she walked slowly away into the rain. He looked down at his feet and there was the rose, its dark red petals in sharp contrast with the fresh, rich dirt.

Carlo opened his mouth to scream but it was too late, soil began to rain down and cover him as the grey skies opened and the service drew to an end…

Along The Weathered Winding Trail – Room 101

A start of somethign perhaps…

In response to M’s writing prompts which you can find at the link below.  These are often just quick pieces, ideas or glimpses of what might be…Fun to do though.  I used to try do them in 101 owrds but meh, it’s close enough…See the prompts here


The lights of the night beyond splashed across the hotel bedroom walls and painted his body in neon pinks and blues as he walked towards the window. Breathing deep he slid open the heavy glass panes and the noise of the city spilled in with the cold winter air. Shivering he lit a cigarette and watched below, the smell of her cheap perfume still on his skin and that god awful noise she made ringing in his ears.

Fighting against the wind Dennis folded the map and forced it angrily in to the side pocket of his pack.

“So, where now?” Cath asked taking a drink from her canteen and motioning towards the valley below them.  “Down there?  Seems the best route I think.”

Dennis took a deep breath and counted to five in his head as he watched the water glisten on her lips.  She licked them noisily and it made his stomach lurch uncomfortably.   

“No, we need to head up.” He pointed westwards to where the sun was beginning to arc towards the snow covered peaks.  “The pass is another couple of hundred feet up and a few hours beyond that we should be not too far from the cabin.”

“A couple of hours?  Jesus Dennis how are we so far off track?  I thought you said you knew how to read a map” 

Dennis snatched the canteen and took a drink. 

“Careful” Cath snapped back, “that’s got to last us until we can find water again and you know I get thirsty.”

He stared at her as he felt the water slip down his throat and down through his chest like a knife slicing slowly into him.  His heart was racing and he wondered if anyone would believe him if he said she’d slipped and fell into a ravine.

“Sorry, you’re right” he replied.  “I don’t know where we went wrong.  We need to get moving though as we need to be there before dark.”  He knew exactly where they had gone wrong, they had gone wrong when Cath had insisted on taking charge because he always got these things wrong apparently. 

Dennis hauled his pack onto his back and pulled the straps tight.  There was snow in the air and the temperature was dropping.  Probably too cold for her to die from hyperthermia if caught out he thought, far too early in the season.   Pity.

“This way then” he said setting off along the narrow track along the cliff top.  To their left tall pines climbed into the sky and far below he could hear the babble of water. 

“Maybe you should go down and get some water before we set off” Cath suggested shaking the bottle. 

“Maybe you should get mauled by a bear in the night because your sleeping bag has been filled with bacon” Dennis thought to himself before insisting that there was a waterfall on the map not far away and that they could hold out until then. 

“I’m really thirsty “ Cath replied taking another drink.  “Are you okay waiting until we get there?”

“Yes dear of course” Dennis replied, his fists curled into a ball wondering whether there were wolves in the area.

They walked quietly for a while, the beauty of their surroundings lost on Dennis as he stared at the ground counting the steps as he went.  This was supposed to be a trip to help fix things but just a day in and things were resuming their usual patterns of accusation and recrimination. 

“Gorgeous isn’t it” he said looking up and motioning to the white tipped mountains in the distance.  “The brochures really don’t do it justice.”

Cath didn’t respond and when Dennis turned around he saw that she had her ear buds in and was humming along to whatever she had playing.  It was probably Bach.  She liked Bach.  Bach made him feel stupid because he simply could not appreciate it like his wife and her university friends did. 

“Fuckin Bitch” he said aloud. 

God that felt good. 

She looked up, removing one of the buds from here ear.  “Did you say something?” She asked.

“No Dear” Dennis responded.  “Not long to go now though and we should be at the waterfall.”

“Ok” Cath said and went back to her music.

“I want to screw your sister” Dennis muttered under his breath smiling.    

Cath removed her earbuds again.  “Are you sure you didn’t say something?  You do have a habit of mumbling as you know.”

“Bears” thought Dennis.  Bear would probably eat all of her, even her fat arse.

“Up there look” Dennis said “the waterfall.”

The last hundred metres seemed to take forever as the path grew steeper and underfoot large rocks made the going difficult.  By the time they reached the summit they were both breathing heavily. 

“God look at that, isn’t it amazing” Dennis said.  Before him a river cut through the rocks and plunged downwards to the valley below.

“Yeah its lovely” Cath said handing him the canteen.  “Fill that up will you I want to take a photo.”

Dennis watched as she walked up to the edge of the bank where the river fell over the cliff edge.  Unfortunately it wasn’t particularly fast flowing so there was little chance that she would be washed away.

“Hey Dennis, come and take a photo with me” Cath called out.   

Dennis walked over reluctantly, his usual smile plastered across his face. 

“One for the scrap book” He said standing next to Cath, the heavily wooded valley stretching far into the distance. 

“Indeed it will be” Cath said as quite suddenly she pushed Dennis hard in the back and he stumbled forward twisting slowly as he plunged over the cliff top.

Looking up he saw her smiling down at him as he fell towards his death.

“Fucking bitch…”